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Some Small Landlords Say Renters Haven't Been Paying Since Before Pandemic Started And Are Now Getting A Pass

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some mom-and-pop landlords want Gov. JB Pritzker to let them evict tenants who were set to be tossed out before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, the governor extended the eviction moratorium for another 30 days without offering any relief to the landlords.

CBS 2's Jeremy Ross spoke to property owners who said it is allowing deadbeat tenants to live rent-free.

Linda Villareal's Jefferson Park property provides rental income. But Jefferson said the tenants haven't paid rent since the fall of last year.

"And then the pandemic hit, and nothing's happening," Villareal said.

She said since the health crisis began, the state has protected renters due to things like job loss from COVID-19. But she said the state has not protected her wallet.

"So now they think they can live there for free forever," Villareal said.

When asked if it felt like she was being stolen from, Villareal said, "Yes, I feel like I'm being taken advantage of."

She added that her renters seem to be able to afford other things.

"One of them, he's working they bought a big giant trampoline they put in my yard," she said. "And they bought a swimming pool too, and they can't pay rent."

"It makes me angry," Villareal added. "It's not fair."

"One person complained that they see their tenant at work, yet they're still not paying rent," said Paul Arena of the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association.

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When asked how common Villareal's situation is, Arena said, "Well, that's the typical story that we hear."

Arena said such stories are becoming more common from the 15,000 mom-and-pop businesses he represents.

Since the spring, the governor has been extending the pause on evictions. Arena has asked for exceptions, like renters who weren't playing before the health crisis and are now getting a kind of pandemic pass.

The CBS 2 Investigators are also asking the governor if he would commit to those kinds of exemptions. But there's been no action since.

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"I'm having trouble paying my bills because they're not paying me," Villareal said.

If this continues, how long before the property gets foreclosed on?

"I don't know," Villareal said. "But I have a mortgage, and I'm struggling to pay the mortgage."

Cook County reports that at least 1,750 evictions have been put on hold since spring.

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