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Evictions Could Be Delayed For Months As Renters Struggle To Stay On Their Feet During Coronavirus Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Past due. COVID-19 knocked millions of people off their feet financially, and now they're struggling to pay rent. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains how quickly landlords can move to kick you out.

Eviction could be on the horizon for those living in Chicago's 600,000 thousand apartments. Nationally, more than 30% of tenants didn't pay their rent in full by April 5.

That includes Thomas Rose, finance director for Honda in downtown Chicago, who depends on commission from car sales to make a living.

"We barely did 80 cars last month, so we lost 100 cars' worth of business. This month, we're tracking to do less than that," he said. "Obviously that affects my pay substantially."

Building management won't budge; no rent reduction allowed. For Rose, affording rent in the month of May only looks worse.

"It's the unknown. The fear of the unknown," he said.

Here's another way COVID-19 is affecting housing. Starting in March, county courts across Illinois suspended eviction hearings.

"Nothing can happen until mid may," said John Bartlett, executive director of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization.

Bartlett said it's a five-week wait just to get on the eviction court calendar right now. He predicts instances of sheriff's offices evicting renters will be further delayed because of the coronavirus.

Here's a quick, very simplified timeline for an eviction.

It begins with a five-day notice to a renter to pay up or leave. Then a landlord requests a court date, which usually takes a few weeks to schedule.

The sheriff's office then delivers the renter a notice of the hearing. At that hearing, a judge listens to the renter's case, and usually grants a stay of eviction for another two weeks to giver them a chance to pay up.

If the renter still isn't paid up or moved out, it's time for enforcement.

"Things are going to be backed up now, because there have been no evictions for the past month. So all those evictions have to take place, and then the sheriff will start getting new ones. So i would say you're looking at July and August," Bartlett said.

That's only mild relief for people struggling right now.

"We saw days where we didn't even see any customers at all," Rose said.

While some housing advocates are fighting for a rent freeze, others are pushing for a hold on mortgages. That would give landlords some wiggle room with their tenants, because banks would tack on payments to the end of a mortgage instead of collecting now.

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