Jury demand abusive in Chicago eviction cases

10 Replies

Hi,

Most Chicago landlords probably heard of the jury demand tactic that tenants use to delay the eviction cases. I had one many years ago and luckily the rent was paid by the third party in the end. The case was dismissed. Now I'm facing another. Not sure what to expect. My attorney told me that very few jury demand cases actually go all the way to jury trial. Most settle before that (either agree on prolong stay or reduce the rent owe or both). What I don't understand is how the low income tenant attorney makes money. They'd better not try to collect from LL.

I've heard of the modification to stream line jury demand process by Cook county judges in 2015. Not sure about the details. 

Please share your experience. Any tips/advice is appreciated. 

Thank you,

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"What I don't understand is how the low income tenant attorney makes money. They'd better not try to collect from LL."

That is exactly what they do. How else do you think a tenant who cannot pay the rent can afford an attorney at $200 to $300 an hour.  If you don't want to go to trial and agree to settle the case it will include the fees for the tenants attorney.

You don't want to rent to a tenant that is broke, likewise attorneys don't want broke clients with no ability to pay. Attorneys take these cases knowing the property owner (or their insurance company) will end up paying their fees.

To avoid this...you need to make sure your case is ROCK solid and you win. If you have been counter sued and agree to settle you will be responsible for your attorney fees and the plaintiff's attorney fees plus any agreed damages as part of the settlement.

Been there, done that, its a nightmare.  

  

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The OP says he is facing another court case therefore I assume the time for treating the other party "well" has run its course. 

John/Ronan, thanks for your response. I agree that broke tenants is bad. I never wanted one. However this one came with the property that I purchased a bit ago. :-(

In the lease, both lessor and lessee agree that if we have legal fight, the attorney fee that the non-prevailing party have to pay is no more than $500. This is to deter exactly this type of attorney. We both signed it. I wonder if it has been tested in other states/cities.

@Patrick Pan

Many times the landlord has made a mistake. Even if it's a small $1000 mistake, that's worth settling vs. spending 5k on attorney fees. The tenant attorney gets his $700+ for doing almost nothing, tenant gets free rent for months and $300 to use for his/her next deposit, LL spent $4k less than they would have for the honor of being right. That's what these attorneys bank on.

Another cash cow for tenants and their attorneys is the CLTO and its deposit rules - break that one and you now owe 3x the tenant's deposit.

The jury-demand is just another pressure technique. If they feel you are tight on cash, they'll demand a jury trial because they know you won't have the extra $3k to pay your attorney to prepare for that and will settle. If they feel you have tons of money, they'll think you are therefore smart with money and that you will want to settle vs. spending money to win a judgement against an impossible to collect tenant, and will pressure with the jury-demand costs.

Its a bad situation to be in, but reinforces that you need to get the eviction process going ASAP when necessary, and move through that processes as quickly as our tenant-friendly judges will allow in order to REDUCE YOUR LOSSES. Make sure your attorney knows you want to go to trial ASAP full speed ahead, absolutely no unnecessary continuances. Again, at eviction time its all about reducing your losses to return to profitability, not gaining anything.

Hi Matthew,

Thank you for another great reply. Luckily I don't have any security deposit with this tenant. I inherited her when buying the condo. She's Section8 and needs to move within 90 days before her moving paper expires. Would it be wise to just keep filing continuance until she moves out? She has to move out before the moving paper expires or Section8 will kick her out of the program. 

Please advise,

@Patrick Pan

As indicated, your tenant is with the section 8 program.  Please, call the CHA and talk to them about this,  If you have followed proper paperwork, they will pay your rent through this and even 2 months after she moves out. 

Did you take the CHA class? If not take it ASAP. 

Call CHA and present your case.  See if she may lose her voucher if found in violation with the CHA. Once she loses the voucher she can't no longer apply, the waiting list is over.  She will lose her precious cash cow. 

Have your attorney, if you have one, explain this to her or have the CHA call her ASAP.   Get the 411 on how she can lose her government assistance and drop her a copy.   You should have some leverage in that regards. 

File complains regarding tenancy violations.  Look at the CLTO.  

Good luck, 

Frank, thanks for your reply.

CHA itself has problems. Whenever any problems arise, they stop the payment first. Yuck. For example, they lost a paper that one of my S8 tenants submitted. They stop the payment. WTH! Maybe you're in the area that S8 treat you better. In my area (low income), S8 itself is the problem. Anyhow, I purposely did not report S8 because I didn't want her to lose the voucher. It's a lot easier for her to move when she has the voucher. It may not sound right to you but do you want to be right or be rich. I choose the latter.

Thanks,

Consider drafting a settlement agreement order that gives the tenant time to vacate and in consideration waives the right to a jury trial if said agreement is breached.  You're losing time either way, IMO this is the more efficient way to waster time. 

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