Can I Be Evicted in Cold Weather?

Can I Be Evicted in Cold Weather?
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Last updated: December 2007

The following question was submitted to John Roska, an attorney/writer whose weekly newspaper column, "Q&A: The Law," runs in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Illinois Edition) and the Champaign News Gazette.

Question

My daughter’s landlord is threatening to evict her if she doesn’t catch up her rent. Can he force her out of her apartment in the winter, when it’s cold outside? I thought that was illegal.

Answer

Cold weather usually doesn’t stop an eviction. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is or what the temperature is like - the landlord can still evict her.

The idea that it can be too cold to evict someone is not true. There are other common myths about eviction. Some others are that families with children can’t be evicted, or that families get extra time to move when they are evicted. Another myth is that an eviction notice is no good if it’s not notarized. 

All of these myths are false. 

But, there is an exception to this if your daughter lives in Cook County. In Cook County, the sheriff cannot enforce eviction orders from December 17, 2007 until January 2, 2008. After that evictions can start again. Also, the sheriff cannot enforce orders when outside temperatures are 15F or below, or when weather conditions would cause danger to the health of those evicted. So, if you live in Cook County you don't have to worry about the sheriff coming out during this time period.

In the rest of Illinois there are no rules against eviction during the winter. The idea that you can't be evicted when it gets too cold probably comes from the fact that there is a law against utility disconnections in cold weather. From December 1 to March 31, public utilities have to be extra careful about disconnections. They can’t cut anyone’s power if they’ll be left without heat on any day when there is a forecast that the temperature will be 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. 

Instead of trying to make sure this weather rule is followed, many power companies simply won’t do disconnections between December 1 and March 31.

But that’s a utility law about power connections. It doesn’t apply to landlords and evictions. The fact that it’s wintertime, or really cold, does not stop a landlord from evicting a tenant. Even Chicago's local ordinance doesn’t stop evictions in cold weather.

Also, tenants with kids get no breaks in the eviction process. If their landlord goes to court and gets an eviction judgment against them, families don’t get any extra time to move.

Finally, an eviction notice doesn’t have to be notarized to be legal. 

In short, an eviction situation can be pretty harsh. In most cases, all that matters is: did the tenant pay what they owed to the landlord within 5 days of getting a proper eviction notice. If they didn't, then they’ll probably be evicted.

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