FILE - Illinois, apartment, rental housing, for rent

A rent sign displays outside apartment in Mount Prospect, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. 

(The Center Square) – A landlord association official says tenants must reach out to landlords to avoid a wave of evictions in Illinois.

An eviction moratorium in the state will be phased out by the end of August, although landlords were allowed to start filing for eviction orders at the beginning of the month. An estimated 460,000 renters are behind on their payments in Illinois.

Clint Sabin, spokesman for the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance, said renters need to check into rental assistance programs that are available.

“It is important that they reach out to their housing provider and apply because that is really the only way we will be able to cancel rent debt and avoid the eviction process,” Sabin said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted the new eviction moratorium aimed at protecting tenants in counties with high levels of community transmission of COVID-19, which affects about 90% of the country.

“The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads.”

The latest moratorium order could face legal challenges after the Supreme Court determined the Biden administration couldn't extend the previous eviction moratorium through executive action.

President Joe Biden said having the moratorium until Oct. 3, even if it gets challenged in court, “will probably give some additional time” for states and cities to release billions of dollars in federal aid to renters.

Some landlord associations call the eviction moratorium an unfunded government mandate that forces housing providers to deliver a costly service without compensation.

“One-third of housing providers can’t pay for repairs, and how would you like to live in a building where the housing provider can’t fix a broken door or repair a leaky roof,” Sabin said. “Those instances are happening all over the state.”

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.