Belvidere family says animals live in apartment’s walls, but landlord says he can’t afford to fix

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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — A Belvidere family says the sounds of animals in the walls of their apartment is keeping them up at night, but their landlord says because of Illinois’ pandemic tenant eviction moratorium, there’s not enough money left to fix the problem.

Justin and his fiancé, Kristin, rent an apartment in Belvidere and say the constant animal noises coming from the ceiling are scaring their young daughters.

“It’s definitely claws, but I don’t know of anything that would be big enough and be able to get in there, except squirrels,” Justin said. “I mean, it sounds larger than that, but I can’t imagine anything would be getting in.

“We’ve contacted the health department. [We have a] ton of birds in our walls and animals scratching all night. The kids are scared to sleep in there, and we really just want the animals gone,” he said.

Justin said he told his landlord, Mike Thomas, about the problem, but Thomas says he can’t afford to fix the issue because he has 10 tenants who aren’t paying rent in some of his other properties, due to Illinois moratorium on evictions.

With many impacted by joblessness during the pandemic, Illinois and the federal government issued a freeze on evictions, even if tenants don’t pay rent. That now extends through March 2022. Under the moratorium, only those who are dangerous or cause severe damage could be evicted.

“With less money coming in, you have to decide what you want to do. The priorities are, obviously, the mortgage and the taxes and the utilities and insurance. Whatever is left goes to whatever else needs to be done,” he said.

The Rockford Apartment Association says that, with landlords not being able to evict tenants for not paying rent, it’s causing a chain reaction.

“If two of the tenants aren’t paying, there might be two tenants who are paying, responsibly. But, the landlord is still out half of his revenue, so everyone’s quality of life is going to suffer, so the maintenance on the building entirely is going to suffer,” said Paul Arena, of the Rockford Apartment Association.

Thomas says he plans to put mesh over the vents to keep animals out of the apartment. Justin and his family say they’re looking forward to the day the animals are gone.

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