Tenant-Landlord Conflict Mediation Resources Up As Rent Is Due Amid Pandemic Shutdown

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A free mediation service that helps resolve rent issues for tenants and landlords has had lots of calls as a new month rolls in — and it says its counselors are prepared for more.

It's the beginning of the month and rent is due for most tenants who can still afford to pay. Cassandra Lively, executive director of the Center for Conflict Resolution in Chicago, said her service has had an uptick in the numbers of calls from tenants who have lost their jobs, thus needing more flexibility from their landlord to pay rent.

“We normally serve landlords and tenants primarily through the court system, at the stage where it’s reached an eviction," Lively said. “But since courts aren’t hearing eviction matters right now, we’re really interested in getting the word out to both tenants and landlords that they can call us during this time and we can serve them while the courts are closed and help them try to reach an agreement.”

Although Mayor Lightfoot and the city announced a new solidarity housing plan Wednesday for those who are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage during the shutdown, some landlords and property companies are still planning to file evictions to those who cannot pay.  

This is why resources like the CCRC have become increasingly important for residents who are financially stuck. Other resources like Rentervention, a nonprofit of Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, are also helping ease the anxiety and stress housing issues can cause. Rentervention, also a free tool for Chicago renters, helps residents to protect their rights when it comes to eviction, security deposits and repairs needed in their homes.

Like CCRC, Rentervention is fielding COVID-19 related problems that include tenants who can’t pay rent and landlords who refuse to make repairs. 

Lively of CCRC said the veteran association also mediates between divorced or separated parents where, for example, one is concerned about the other parent not social distancing during the pandemic.