STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WTVO) – Tenants in eviction court can now apply for financial aid to keep a roof over their heads, thanks to the Rental Assistance Program.
Landlords are required to let tenants know about the aid when giving an eviction notice. James Fieden, a Winnebago Rental Property Owner, said that he can not get some renters to fill out the paper work, with them skipping town before filling out the forms, leaving him with the debt.
“Since the eviction moratorium hit, our open balance in rent, our lost rent, grew to over $100,000,” said Fieden. “Just a few weeks ago, we served everyone five day eviction notices who had an open balance and half of them just left. In most cases, they trashed the unit, so it is pretty devastating.”
The new eviction mediation program is supposed to resolve evictions before they go to court, but both the tenant and landlord have to fill out paperwork.
“For whatever reason, they decided that this eviction moratorium was going to last forever, and they just did not even want to take the effort to apply,” Fiden said.
Eric Slepak, the Associate Director of Resolution Systems Institute, the nonprofit working with courts on the program, said that the tenants are responsible for starting the application for the grant money.
“The economic factors that have been in play, that have kept people from making rent, are still in play here, so there needs to be really a lifeline,” Slepak said.
However, according to Fiden, that lifeline is not working.
“You will get them almost to the goal line, and then they will decide they are going to move out, so they will not sign that final document and then you are stuck with a $10,000, or we have even had a $17,000, open balance,” Fieden said.
According to Fiden, this is costing some landlords their business.
“I have actually had some landlords who have reached out to me, willing to sell their property just because they are not going to make it through,” Fiden said.
If the application is completed by both the landlord and tenant, and approved, a check is mailed to the landlord, and the eviction can be dismissed in court.
The state’s moratorium on evictions ends October 3rd.