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Landlord Advocates Offer Ideas For Phasing Out Illinois Eviction Moratorium; 'Let's Start With Those Pre-COVID Situations'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's a Morning Insiders story that struck a nerve. A senior citizen can't sell her home because people she doesn't know moved in and won't move out.

The state's eviction moratorium complicates her situation, but we found some landlord advocates with ideas. CBS 2's Lauren Victory shares their solutions to phasing out the governor's eviction ban.

"What are you doing there with those scissors?" a CBS 2 photographer asked a woman approaching our crews last week.

"Getting you the f*** away from my s***," she replied.

The spirited interaction with the alleged squatter in West Chatham caught the eye of many online. Property owner Clarice Mason said three squatters moved into that home without permission almost a year ago, and refuse to leave. The senior citizen said she spent $40,000 renovating the home to sell it.

"She's says it's not your home," Victory told the woman living in the home.

"I don't give a f*** what she say, I'm in this b****, ain't I?" the woman said.

It's unclear how the uninvited guests got into the house, but they showed the homeowner a lease. Mason said it is fake.

The situation had us wondering how squatters come to squat.

Theoretically, it could be that someone leaves their house unlocked, and another person steps inside and says they live there now.

More practically, eviction attorney Michael Zink explains squatters are often improperly let in by a tenant who is authorized to be at a property but moves.

In other cases, the squatter is more brazen.

"Sometimes they've gotten in through trespassing," said Zink.

Facebook suggestions to "Move in with them" or "Throw a skunk inside" aren't going to fly, of course. Even the idea to "turn off all utilities" is illegal.

"If the police don't know who's telling the truth, which is what happens most of the time, they're going to tell the property owner, 'You'll have to take them to eviction court,'" said Zink.

Most evictions in Illinois currently are banned by an executive order from Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Housing provider Mike Glasser says court is always a last resort for him anyway.

"We know that most tenants try very earnestly to make good on their obligations," said Glasser, who serves as president of the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance. NBOA represents housing providers for more than 70,000 apartments in the Chicago area.

In the organization's 2021 survey, landlords reported 54 percent of tenants behind on rent were already late before the virus hit.

"We're suggesting to the governor: let's start with those pre-COVID situations," said Glasser, who wants to slowly phase out the moratorium.

Pritzker previously said he plans to phase out the moratorium by August, but has not yet said how he will do so.

Another NBOA idea: allow evictions not related to missing rent; perhaps for safety issues, noise problems, or nuisance animals.

"If tenants without permission have a dog that's a problem, that is not under control, we should have the ability to control that situation as well," said Glasser.

He's also in favor of removing protections for accused squatters. The word "resident" is included in the eviction moratorium. Glasser and attorney Zink agree "resident" should be more narrowly defined or taken out all together; with words like "tenant," "lesee," and "sub-lessee" remaining.

The governor has renewed his order each month since first imposing the moratorium in April 2020, and it typically includes the same language.

With June 1 on the horizon, CBS 2 asked Pritzker's office to comment on these suggested tweaks, but we did not hear back.

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