Cook County Sheriff Halts Foreclosure Evictions

The Sheriff of Cook County (Chicago) today announced his office will no longer evict people from homes under foreclosure.

many people his office has helped throw out on the street are renters who did nothing wrong.
“We will no longer be a party to something that's so unjust,” a visibly angry Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said at a news conference.

“We have to be sure that when we are doing this – and we are destroying some people's lives – we better be darned sure we're talking about the right people,” Dart said.


Dart said that from now on, banks will have to present his office with a court affidavit that proves the home's occupant is either the owner or has been properly notified of the foreclosure proceedings.

Dart is believed to be the first Sheriff in the country to institute such a policy.

“My job as sheriff is to follow court orders, absolutely,” he said. “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.”

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    Wow. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by coigue on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:37:27 PM EST

    My thoughts exactly. WOW. Maybe this will (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Angel on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:40:16 PM EST
    start a trend...

    Me three. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by nycstray on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:42:17 PM EST
    and I do hope he starts a trend. We need to start dealing with the people as people, not another number.

    What does that mean? (2.00 / 1) (#24)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:57:42 AM EST
    People should get to remain in houses that they aren't paying anything for?  I couldn't agree more.  I can't wait to stop paying my mortgage.  I hope this spreads to everyone, across the country, and we can all ditch our mortgages and our rent!

    That was beautiful (5.00 / 0) (#25)
    by blogtopus on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:03:17 AM EST
    Can I touch you? Or are you busy stuffing another strawman?

    The sheriff is asking for proof of ownership or that the occupant has been properly notified. Apparently the case is that banks are having people thrown out without notification.

    Yep. These people are paying rent on time, and then boom out of nowhere they have to leave. Sounds fair to me.


    We actually just had a situation here (5.00 / 0) (#26)
    by nycstray on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:13:54 AM EST
    where a LL was renting out illegal apts (as a renter, not always easy to tell if they are legal). Many families were thrown out of their homes in one day. They paid their rent on the first, couple days later, utilities turned off. Next morning, immediate eviction. Now the city is and was trying to help them with places to stay etc, but still . . . they had to leave that day. I'm sure they would have loved a 30 day notice as hard as that would have been. At least they would have had their rent money they just paid.

    Even though I have disaster plans in place, it would be a whole 'nother story if I was evicted with 1 day, 7 days or even 2 weeks notice. O.M.G.


    Nope, no straw involved (1.00 / 1) (#28)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:23:52 AM EST
    The sheriff will no longer serve evictions.  People can continue to stay where they are and not pay rent or mortgage.  The sheriff said so.

    We all live in hope that our local sheriffs will follow the lead of Cook County and there will be no more evictions anywhere in the country and we can all live without paying rent or mortgage.  What could be better?!  


    putting your sarcasm aside- (5.00 / 0) (#36)
    by kenosharick on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:06:56 AM EST
    nothing of the kind will happen. Read the WHOLE article before getting into a right-wing snit.

    The Money Quote (5.00 / 0) (#37)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 07:57:25 AM EST
    llinois law requires that renters be notified that their residence is in foreclosure and they will be evicted in 120 days, but Dart indicated that the law has been routinely ignored.

    Interesting.  Illinois, like Florida is a lien theory state which usually means a mortgage is used rather than a deed of trust (I am deliberately dumbing this down). The difference is whether you have a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure. In a judicial foreclosure, the lender goes to court to foreclose. In the one title theory state I practiced in, the lender advertised the sale under strict rules and the only way it went to court was if the homeowner wanted to stop it alleging some defense.

    Here in Florida, we typically name and serve John and Jane Doe summons in foreclosures and send the process server out to serve them on any tenants which may be living there at the time the foreclosure is filed. We also do unknown spouse summons in case the borrower got married since the mortgage loan. I wonder what the "nuts and bolts" practice in Illinois is in this area...

    In normal times, a mortgage foreclosure in Florida could be done in 60 to 90 days, from filing date to sale at the courthouse.  

    These are not normal times, however. Getting a hearing date is problematic in South Florida right now. Judges are granting 90 day sale dates (30 to 60 used to be the norm). The procedure is file the complaint, serve the defendants, wait for the response, if any. Did they allege a defense? Again in normal times, most people write an informal response, e.g. I lost my job and can't pay. That typical response is an admission the debt is owed and not paid and makes the foreclosing parties' life easier. If no response,  motion for default, file the usual affidavits and motion for summary judgment, the MSJ hearing and then sale. You don't want to know how fast it is in a title theory state (lender's paradise), that doesn't have any homeowner protections.

    Another consequence of this crises, is that community associations are losing assessments (here in Florida and anywhere the association is 2nd to the lender's mortgage/deed of trust) and cannot upkeep the common area without assessment hikes. This in turn increases the financial burden on other homeowners in the association, which may be all the push  they need to fall into foreclosure. Services association members pay for are cut, property values plummet, a middle class homeowner's biggest asset is devalued.

    But hey, the market knows all, sees all. Blessed be the name of the market. Deregulation today! Deregulation tomarrah! Deregulation forevah!


    from your lips..... (none / 0) (#8)
    by coigue on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:51:31 PM EST
    Funnily enough... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Salo on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 10:14:36 PM EST
    ...I was over at Redsate, and one commentatr was saying how the next step to siocialim was Judges and court officials refusing to evict families.

    I hope that freeper was right, cause I'll take that Gramscian method if it's true.

    Imagine that people with roofs over their heads? The gall.


    Roofs that don't belong to them? (1.00 / 1) (#23)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:56:11 AM EST
    I'm looking forward to not having to pay my mortgage anymore.  Even better would be living rent free in someone else's house!  

    redstate (none / 0) (#42)
    by coigue on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:13:32 PM EST
    that may be a good place for you to check out.

    Bless your heart, (1.00 / 1) (#45)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:23:16 PM EST
    You are still following me around and giving me those precious little 1 and 2 ratings.   Heaven knows, I need all the attention that I can get.  It's always nice to meet a fellow traveler.  

    apparently, it's always (none / 0) (#46)
    by coigue on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:44:27 PM EST
    nice to throw a fellow trveller out in the street.

    Bless your heart.


    I would NEVER throw you out in the street! (1.00 / 1) (#50)
    by BrassTacks on Fri Oct 10, 2008 at 02:03:05 AM EST
    You poor thing, we know you'd never find your way home!  

    I am fine thank you very much (none / 0) (#51)
    by coigue on Fri Oct 10, 2008 at 11:04:13 AM EST
    I got out of the market this summer. I am talking about all the other folks in trouble.

    The Sheriff from that Palin rally in Florida (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by steviez314 on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:45:35 PM EST
    would probably just shoot the homeowner.

    God save this country from those people.

    Those are the people (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:55:37 PM EST
    who voted for W twice. . .

    yes but McCain is different (5.00 / 0) (#11)
    by lilburro on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:58:15 PM EST

    They might also shoot the sheriff. (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Salo on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 10:19:30 PM EST

    But what about the deputy? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by andgarden on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 10:56:58 PM EST
    BrassTacks: (5.00 / 0) (#27)
    by cpinva on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:22:58 AM EST
    poor thing, everyone's ignoring you! here, let me clear up your obvious confusion:

    Only renters have to pay their rent?

    yes, that's why it's called rent, because it's paid by renters.

    But not people with mortgages, right?

    correct. people with mortgages make mortgage payments, they don't pay rent. they aren't renting, they (along with the bank) own the property.

    How did the sheriff's office get eviction notices that were not legal?  

    apparently, some of the court ordered eviction notices contained no proof that the legally mandated notifications, to the renting occupants, had been properly executed, by the plaintif in the case.

    the eviction notices were not perfected. until this is done, they have no standing under law, and the sheriff is legally prohibited from acting on them.

    there ya go buddy! you needn't ask the same inane questions any more. :)

    Sorry I am so dumb (none / 0) (#31)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:29:06 AM EST
    Maybe you can tell me when I can stop paying my mortgage and not have to worry about eviction?  

    Thank you.


    After you've paid it off, of course. (5.00 / 0) (#33)
    by nycstray on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:10:17 AM EST
    Rather obvious, eh?

    He's not the first sheriff to try to do (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by scribe on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 03:16:52 AM EST
    something.  Back in April the Sheriff of Philadelphia, Pa. (Philadelphia County and the City of Philadelhia share physical boundaries but are, legally speaking, separate governmental entities) announce he would no longer hold forelosure sales on houses with ARMs that kicked up their rates.  That is different from what the Cook County Sheriff is doing.

    As to the Philly sheriff, I suspect his moratorium has been forced to be lifted by the Courts - we are not hearing any more about it.

    The issue is pretty simple.  When a Sheriff is performing a sale as the culminating act of a foreclosure, he is performing a "ministerial" act as opposed to a "discretionary" act.  This is an important distinction in the law.  For the non-lawyers, a ministerial act is one where the governmental official is carrying out a legally required duty and has little if any discrection (power to decide) whether or not to do it.  "Just doing my job" in so many words.  A discretionary act, OTOH, is one where the act is within the official's power, but he may choose to perform it now, or perform it later.

    In carrying out a sheriff's sale or, likely for that matter an eviction, the sheriff is only doing this because the Court, as a part of the foreclosure, has ordered him to do it.  He is a court officer carrying out a court order.

    Now, can the sheriff find ways to drag his feet and require every i dotted and t crossed in such a way as to delay carrying out a foreclosure sale or eviction?  Yes.  Insisting on perfect paperwork is a classic, and very effective, way of delaying performing a duty odious to the official.  Sheriffs are, by and large, elected officials and they like their incumbency and re-election just like any other elected official.  Offending voters and having scenes of screaming people carried away from their homes reported does not held the public image.  

    But, as in the Depression or the family farm crisis of the 1980s, going after the sheriff is no different than going after the arm of the octopus that's grabbed you.  He has no independent discretion and is "just doing his job".  The place to attack the foreclosure problem is in the policy and rules that put the Sheriff in the position to be "just doing his job".  The Sheriff is not the real enemy, here.

    As to the Cook County sheriff - he seems to be engaging in a classic form of foot-dragging to avoid performaing an odious duty.  Not that I disagree with him - I think it's commendable, in fact.  One of the bigger renter nightmares is the landlord who, rather than pay the mortgage pockets the rent money and lets the building go.  It's right up there with the illegal sublet or the false-front landlord (the one who says he is the landlord but isn't), both of which often result in sudden, unexpected renters' moves.  

    He's doing what he can;  the only thing he could do beyond this (that I can think of off the top of my head) is so short-staff his office and short the budget for processing paperwork that the sales and evictions cannot get done in a timely manner.  If the sales and evictions can't get done in a timely manner, then the foreclosing mortgagee has to go back and get new papers because the court order will usually spell out a time and place when the actions are supposed to take place.  If they don't, then the papers have to be generated anew.

    BrassTacks: (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by cpinva on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:22:47 AM EST
    Sorry I am so dumb

    so are we.

    Heh! (none / 0) (#38)
    by scribe on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 07:59:27 AM EST
    Nice flip!

    Two sides to the story, as usual. (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:35:13 PM EST
    Dart said he will resume foreclosure-related evictions when lenders agree to do their own due diligence in figuring out who is living in foreclosed properties.

    But the bold step could make matters worse for aspiring homeowners and the market, some experts say.

    "It would have a significant impact because obviously lenders would be hesitant to lend if they knew that if someone defaulted they wouldn't be able to take the property back," said Frank Binetti, vice president of the Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association. "It would create higher risks for lenders and they would have to price that into the loans, if they even chose to lend in Cook County.

    "The only thing you have as a lender is the collateral, and if you aren't able to retrieve the collateral, why are you even lending in the first place?"

    Thanks (none / 0) (#47)
    by blueaura on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:58:37 PM EST
    For providing that bit of clarification. It is a quote from this Chicago Tribune article.

    I have to say: Bravo! I am a renter in Chicago, and it's nice to have a local/state elected official I don't want to run over in a dilapidated CTA bus.

    To counter (somewhat) the argument that this is going to stop lenders from lending, as someone else already pointed out the banks don't really want the houses. How are they going to sell them in this market? Besides, it's obvious this is temporary. I doubt this is really going to have an impact on lending.

    If this keeps innocent people from being tossed out on the street, then I think the banks can wait a little while to get their hands on homes they won't be able to sell anyway.


    "How are they going to sell them (none / 0) (#48)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 03:27:27 PM EST
    in this market?"

    They "just" have to price them correctly.

    Of course, if the "correct" selling price is less than the balance on the loan + selling expenses, the bank'll just have to take a loss.

    Aw, heck, screw 'em. Who cares if big biz/banks have problems, no skin off our noses, right?

    /my little rant.

    Yes, evicting renters who've had no notice that the house they're renting has been foreclosed on and therefore they will be evicted is 100% wrong.


    These reports appear to muddle (none / 0) (#4)
    by Cream City on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:43:01 PM EST
    different statuses.  The sheriff is not saying they will stop evicting homeowners from their properties.  He is saying they will will stop evicting renters from others' properties under foreclosure.  

    Banks as new owners still have to give eviction notices to renters, don't they?  And the process is not overnight.   Sounds like there have been some typical Cook County screwups.

    he's not saying either (none / 0) (#7)
    by txpublicdefender on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:48:03 PM EST
    He's not saying he won't evict owners or renters.  What he's saying is that he is going to require verification in the way of a court-filed affidavit that whoever the occupant of the home is--owner or renter--has been notified in accordance with the law before they will actually go to evict.

    He can't just say he's going to stop enforcing court orders.


    Actually (none / 0) (#15)
    by Salo on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 10:16:52 PM EST
    I reckon mass evictions will trigger a revolt.

    The authorities can't do it all at once.  People will fight back and kill Bailiffs and other court officers over this.

    You can't make milions homeless and not expect to get killed yourself. No joke.


    Huh? (none / 0) (#22)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:54:38 AM EST
    Why would that happen NOW, when fewer people will be evicted?  

    Oh, so renters can stay for free (none / 0) (#21)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:53:42 AM EST
    That's cool too.  

    Can the sheriff's office ignore eviction notices?  Not deliver them?  


    He said he can't tell the difference (none / 0) (#29)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:25:49 AM EST
    Since he doesn't know if they are renters or homeowners, he won't evict anyone.  No evictions will be enforced.  At least that's how I read this.

    That's a different report (none / 0) (#39)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 08:41:23 AM EST
    with more clarity than the one linked to and over-extrapolated from here.  Thanks.

    I don't know why (none / 0) (#5)
    by eric on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:45:31 PM EST
    I haven't heard anyone calling for a foreclosure moratorium.  The banks don't even want these houses, the people become homeless, and everyone looses because the foreclosure drives down prices in the neighborhood and for the house itself.

    Wasn't Hillary calling for one? (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by nycstray on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 08:54:30 PM EST
    she's ahead of the curve (none / 0) (#16)
    by Salo on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 10:18:46 PM EST
    I expect to see riots once the homeless figures become public record.  

    as i read the article, (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 09:23:33 PM EST
    all he said was that from now on, the laws will be followed as written, not as convenient to the banks. it stated that renters are required to be given 120 days notice, prior to eviction. apparently, this was being ignored by everyone, the sheriff's office included.

    it's nice to see someone finally actually deciding to abide by the laws of the land.

    Renters? (1.00 / 1) (#20)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:51:47 AM EST
    Only renters have to pay their rent?  But not people with mortgages, right?  

    How did the sheriff's office get eviction notices that were not legal?  

    Anyway, it's all good if we don't have to pay mortgages anymore.  I could really use that money for something else.  


    As a renter with pets (none / 0) (#13)
    by nycstray on Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 10:13:43 PM EST
    3 months is what is needed pretty much everywhere I've lived. I'm sure families feel the same. You can't just "rent anything" to be expedient. In my case, animals aren't allowed or I have too many. You generally have to juggle where ideal living is with what you can get and the place still needs to work with your daily life. Families need to consider schools etc. I could prob do a month, but it would require finding a temp place and help from friends and family (in my experience). Many families have had to turn their pets into shelters because they can't find a place to stay with them. More time would help in those situations.

    I didn't realize they were turning renters out. OY. Whole new dimension there. My LL has refused to sell his building because he has family (and himself) living here. We're in a 'hood that's going through an upgrade and he's had many an offer. I've had friends forced out of their places so they could be torn down and new shiny places put up. Now it looks like we have to look at the other end, the bank forces you out.


    Yeah, owners of buildings/houses (1.00 / 2) (#30)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:27:29 AM EST
    Should never be able to sell them and make money on that property.  

    You miss the point of (5.00 / 0) (#32)
    by nycstray on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:07:24 AM EST
    "forced out". Some owners don't want to sell. But heck, if the property next door sold and the person that bought it wanted the properties on either side, why stop them from having the contractors ruin the foundations and other methods to get the buildings "unfit to live in". Not uncommon in my 'hood. Again, "forced out".

    Somebody doesn't wanna be.... (none / 0) (#41)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 09:46:57 AM EST
    a mercenary anymore...I like it.

    Now if more mercenary entities were this principled when it comes to the war on drugs...we'd be getting somewhere.

    Aw, he's just waxing nostalgic... (none / 0) (#43)
    by desertswine on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:32:50 PM EST
    for the Good Ole Days.

    Evicted family with belongings on street, December 14, 1929.

    The sheriff of the third-most populous U.S. County (none / 0) (#49)
    by ShaneMcGuirt1 on Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 09:07:07 PM EST

    I agree, why punish the renters of the dwelling, when the owner of the property is at fault.

    I see the mortgage companies are quickly to lay blame and fault on the Sheriffs decisions. (Calling him a vigilante) -- this is so far from the truth.

    This is exactly why America is in trouble today -- Mortgage companies only see pieces of paper and not human occupation of the dwelling.

    All I see here is pointing of the finger instead of a solution to the cause.

    Come on big corporate mortgaged companies,, Look for solutions instead of your corporate greed -- I back the Sheriff -10000000 $%

    Solution = If the renters are making their monthly payment to the mortgagee and the mortgagee is not paying the mortgage and is behind ,, get the renter to assume the loan with the original owners permission.

    Oh yea --- I forget ,,,,, this takes a lot of time and paper work ..

    It seems ,, that actually having to work as a mortgage company takes presentence over human welfare. ??????? Must be true!!!!!!!! Huh ?

    Shane McGuirt

    Sheriff opens up economic woes (none / 0) (#52)
    by ws6daveg on Fri Oct 10, 2008 at 01:39:30 PM EST
    I agree with the Sheriff that the Banks need to do their jobs.
    But looking at the big picture the banks need to look back at themselves.
    They cant afford their loans so rather then declaring bankrupcy they go get a bailout. But when homeowners cant make the payments they expect the full arm of the law to be applied.
    Banks are now above the law it seems.