RadioBDC Logo
New York Morning | Elbow Listen Live
 
 
< Back to front page Text size +

Taking a stand

Posted by Stacey Myers  October 9, 2008 11:17 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

The sheriff in Cook County, Illinois, is taking a stand. He has apparently become the first sheriff in a major metropolitan area to order his deputies to stop evicting people from their homes in foreclosure situations.

That’s because Sheriff Tom Dart says he has found they are frequently evicting unsuspecting renters. They have put tenants out on the street who were keeping up with their rent payments, and who had no idea that their landlord was not doing the same with their mortgage payments. Renters in many cases have not been told of the impending foreclosure by either their landlord, or the bank seeking the foreclosure, he says.

“We will no longer be party to something that’s so unjust,” Dart said at a press conference in Chicago yesterday, according to the Associated Press.

Illinois law requires that renters be notified their residence is in foreclosure and that they will be evicted in 120 days, but the sheriff told the Associated Press this law has routinely been ignored. As such, some tenants have gone off to work in the morning completely unaware that sheriff’s deputies would be arriving to remove their possessions from the property and leave them on the curb. Lately the sheriff's office has been handling 400 to 500 foreclosures in a month, and of those roughly one-third are rental properties and not owner-occupied properties, AP reported.

Earlier this week, a judge refused to issue a contempt order against Dart when his deputies did not enforce an eviction order because they had determined the property occupants were not the owners and had not been properly notified of the foreclosure. After that, Dart decided to impose the ban. Now, if banks want to get any help from the sheriff’s office for an eviction, they will have to present a court affidavit that proves the home’s occupant is either the property owner or has been properly notified of the foreclosure proceedings

“My job as sheriff is to follow court orders, absolutely,” Dart said to the AP. “But I’m also in charge of making sure justice is being done here and it is clear that justice is not being done here.”

I give this guy all the credit in the world for taking a stand for the little people who are getting barreled over in the foreclosure mess. If the lenders and landlords won’t do it, someone should. Would you do anything else in his place?

Enjoyed this post? Get blog updates delivered to your reader. Click here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

21 comments so far...
  1. Not clear to me what the landlords could have done here, but I think the Sheriff is doing the right thing.

    Though I wouldn't say so much he is not evicting people - its that he's not evicting people without proper notice.

    And proper notice is very important in our system.

    An actual refusal to evict would not be legal, or a good thing. The result would be no future loans made in Chicago... but thats not the case here.

    Posted by charles October 9, 08 11:46 AM
  1. If the Sheriff is following the law, I don't have a problem with it, but if he is breaking the law and not fulfilling his duty, then he should be gotten rid of.

    One of the dangers of renting is that you don't own the property. Whether the landlord is paying his bills or not is really none of your business. It is one of the reasons folks like to be homeowners.... more control.

    Posted by rrsafety October 9, 08 11:58 AM
  1. It should not be a sheriff's decision to not enforce court orders.This is outrageous.
    This is a noble stand but, the entire legal system will break down if every minor law enforcement officer decides what they will or not will not enforce. This guy is just a cog in the wheel and should learn his duty.

    Posted by Invest October 9, 08 12:16 PM
  1. Being a homeowner controls certain risks.

    Being a renter controls other risks.

    All dependent on what risks you are more comfortable with. No right answer across the board, it depends greatly on individual circumstance.

    Posted by charles October 9, 08 12:26 PM
  1. "One of the dangers of renting is that you don't own the property. Whether the landlord is paying his bills or not is really none of your business. It is one of the reasons folks like to be homeowners.... more control."

    A lot of college students, parents, well just people in general would love to own their own home, so I guess they could have gone the route of getting a mortgage they couldn't afford, just to have "more control" , only to have the gov't exert "more control" over financiers who got greedy.

    Posted by ann October 9, 08 12:34 PM
  1. As a renter in Chicago, if I am required to abide by a lease agreement is it not fair that the landlord should also, and provide me with the housing for which I have paid and for the amount of time listed on my lease?

    I am to suffer my possessions being evicted while I am at work (and return home to find my pets gone and half my property stolen) because I chose to live within my financial means and NOT take on a mortgage I cannot afford in order to buy a home?

    It is

    Posted by Rob October 9, 08 12:57 PM
  1. Considering the gaping silence from "lawmakers", I would support some non-violent civil disobedience in this situation. Already the sheriff's mere enforcement of current protections is shedding additional light on the need to protect these people's rights.

    Posted by MWest October 9, 08 02:06 PM
  1. The Sheriff is clearly obeying the law, it's unscrupulous lawyers who are trying to cheat renters out of their legal rights.

    "One of the dangers of renting is that you don't own the property. Whether the landlord is paying his bills or not is really none of your business."

    You will be sorry to hear that renters still have legal rights not to have their property chucked out on the street with no notice at all when they are dutifully paying the rent as agreed.

    Posted by Carson October 9, 08 02:35 PM
  1. The bankers' association seems to have ginned up a fake story here, calling him a "vigilante." In fact, he does not seem to be breaking the law, or the judge would have found him in contempt. The guilty parties, it seems, are the bankers, for violating notice requirements. I wonder whether they signed false affidavits claiming proper notice, the way they so often sign false affidavits claiming lost mortgage notes?

    Posted by Marcus October 9, 08 03:14 PM
  1. "One of the dangers of renting is that you don't own the property. Whether the landlord is paying his bills or not is really none of your business. It is one of the reasons folks like to be homeowners.... more control."

    The only ones in "control" are the banks. You don't "own" a home when your upside down. You are a caretaker for the bank, and a chump; not an "owner". Many of the people exerting "control" over a large percentage of America's homes are people who looted the economy, or who have an upside down real estate empire they should have never been allowed to build with no job or credit.

    Posted by Joe Ryan October 9, 08 03:21 PM
  1. When I was a renter, I had a landlady who did not pay the electric bill, so my electricity was cut-off. I had to reinstate it myself. On another occassion and in a different apartment my landlady did not pay the electric bill nor did she repair the damaged mailboxes. The electricity was shut-off and the post office stopped delivering mail to my building. Obviously, it is the renter's business if the service contracted for is not being provided by the owners.

    Posted by Archimedes October 9, 08 03:33 PM
  1. As part of law and lease agreements all people involved have rights and all parties involved are required to give people affected reasonable notice or notice required by law. The Sheriff is right and all he is doing is requiring the landlord and the bank to meet their responsibilities. Good for him. He has a set. The court orders are not valid if the requirements are not met.

    Posted by cityfolk October 9, 08 05:29 PM
  1. I disagree with Marcus and I believe that #8 is also not correct. The Sheriff took a noble stand, but it was his job to enforce, and not his job to interpret, the law. If he really wanted to help the renters, he should have notified them of their rights and enlisted the help of lawyers or other advocates for the renters.

    Just because a judge did not hold the Sheriff in contempt for failing to evict does not mean that the Sheriff had previously acted lawfully. The judge did him a favor (perhaps the judge realized that the renters rights had not been adequately represented).

    Our society functions because people are willing to work through the rules of the system. It works remarkably well, most of the time. Otherwise, the system does degenerate into vigilante justice.

    Posted by GB October 9, 08 08:52 PM
  1. Remember the tenant-eviction resistance of the Great Depression. It is time to fight back!! To organize!! To resist!! Given the current circumstances, the law irrelevant!!

    Posted by RAndy October 9, 08 08:57 PM
  1. So, GB, it's your position that the "rules of the system" require a sheriff to evict occupants whose names are not on the eviction notice--in other words, that we should be tight sticklers in enforcing the law, except it's OK to be casual and cavalier about what the order actually says?

    The sheriff isn't saying that he will never enforce foreclosure orders. He's saying that he's not going to spend all day delivering orders to the wrong people, all because the lenders failed to serve proper notice. His position is, if they'll do their job, he'll do his.

    The bankers' association takes the same position bankers always do--"It will only hurt consumers if we aren't allowed to act illegally and recklessly!" If I were the spokesman, I'd pay a little more attention to fast-changing public opinions about financial firms. And I'd keep my name out of the paper.

    BTW, Asia is tanking. Enjoy Friday's crash. By Monday, your 401(k) will have gone from a 201(k) to an 01(k).

    Posted by Marcus October 9, 08 11:03 PM
  1. The Sheriff is just following the law. A notice requirement *is* the law. He is not refusing to enforce the law - he is enforcing the notice requirement. He also could not, say, execute a search without meeting specific requirements. As with searches, certain administrative requirements must be met before the eviction process can start. This man is doing nothing but following the law.

    This is not "taking a stand." This is not some rogue Sheriff refusing the enforce anything. This is not even close to vigilante justice. This is acting in accordance with his job duties. Nothing particularly special about that!

    To characterize this all as a matter of "being a tenant is risky" is just foolish - statements like this ignore the fact that laws like notice requirements exist for precisely that reason.

    Posted by allison October 10, 08 07:55 AM
  1. Cheers for the Sheriff who has the courage to challenge practices he feels are unjust! It's a form of peaceful protest and has brought this issue to the forefront where it can be discussed in daylight.

    The lenders forcing the tenants' evictions have obviously not done a lot of due diligence on properties or they would know that the ones that are occupied stay in better shape than those that are vacated and left to vandalism and decay. And given that the tenants are staying current with their rent payments, I would think it would be easier to have those payments sent to the lender rather than the defaulted owner. But....given many lenders' lack of positive and proactive actions with regards to owners' financial straits, I am of the belief that there is some hidden benefit in letting properties go because otherwise they would be more willing to complete short sales - most of which don't finalize because of bank inaction.

    Posted by Taylor October 10, 08 08:46 AM
  1. Marcus,

    "in other words, that we should be tight sticklers in enforcing the law, except it's OK to be casual and cavalier about what the order actually says? "

    I do not believe that the Sheriff has to follow orders that he deems in error, unethical or illegal. If he sees an error or disagrees with the eviction notice, he has a choice; he could pursue correction of the error through appropriate channels (such as contacting the bank that provided the eviction notice) or provide the renters with the name of legal representation that would enforce their rights. and might preclude the need to deliver the eviction notice. Civil disobedience is a choice, but I just feel that there are other channels available that could be pursued first.

    Maybe if Randy Cohen the ethicist is reading this, he can have the last word.

    Posted by GB October 10, 08 12:56 PM
  1. "The only ones in "control" are the banks. You don't "own" a home when your upside down. You are a caretaker for the bank, and a chump; not an "owner"."


    Wrong. The person that bought the house is in full control. You pay your mortgage... you stay in the house. You don't pay your mortgage... goodbye.

    I own my home, I pay my mortgage (5.25% fixed, 30 years BTW). I'm in control.

    Posted by rrsafety October 10, 08 04:28 PM
  1. Gosh, I can't believe how selfish and greed-oriented some of these folks are that basically are saying "Tough luck renters, you should've bought a house you couldn't afford instead of renting and getting evicted". I think we should change the law to evict the owners of a property from their real home when they don't pay their mortgage on their rental property. Maybe that would wake a few sleepy eyes and get rid of the greed.

    Posted by DT October 17, 08 11:06 PM
  1. One of the dangers of renting is that you don't own the property. Whether the landlord is paying his bills or not is really none of your business. It is one of the reasons folks like to be homeowners.... more control.

    That is absurd. It is absolutely my business if my landlord's failure to pay his bills gets me evicted. I can't imagine how anybody could come to any other conclusion, unless you are a deadbeat real estate "investor" yourself.

    Your idea of more control is also myopic. Homeowners have a lot less control over many things than renters. You have a lot less control over your mobility - it will be harder for you to move should your job or family require it. You have a lot less control over your wealth. The value of your home, which is probably the largest portion of your net worth, is subject to the whims of the bond market, credit market, employment level, general economic conditions, etc. Yes, I read that you have a fixed rate mortgage, but that means nothing when it comes time to sell - the current rates and credit conditions are what will matter. Prices are plunging, and that is entirely out of your control. That seems a lot more important to me than protecting against the much more rare drawback you associate with renting.

    Posted by George October 26, 08 06:54 PM
 
About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

Latest interest rates

SPONSORED
RE by the Numbers
Find Out How Much You'll Take Home From Your Home Sale
Today we're unveiling a new tool we've created for our readers. As we sit in one of the hottest seller's markets in recent memory many...
archives