Many Illinois landlords are not aware of the remedies available to them under the Illinois Distress for Rent statute, 735 ILCS 5/9-301 et seq. A Distress offers the Landlord a huge advantage through a quick, summary process that is guaranteed to get the tenant’s attention. An old common law remedy codified, the law allows a lessor to seize the personal property of a tenant who has failed to pay rent. Once a seizure is made, the lessor files a distress warrant with the clerk of the court along with a detailed inventory of the property distrained as soon as practicable. The action then proceeds to a determination by the court on the amount owed by the tenant. After receiving a favorable judgment in the proceeding, the landlord is awarded the amount of rent due and the judgment is enforceable against the seized property, which is sold at auction to satisfy the judgment. The tenant may only receive its property back prior to a determination on the merits by posting a bound in twice the amount of the rent claimed.
Known as a “self-help” remedy, a distress for rent is not without its potential pitfalls. A distress for rent could open up the landlord to potential counterclaims from the tenant if not exercised properly. For example, many times a lease provides for additional sums due to the landlord upon default, such as late fees, attorneys’ fees, or penalties. These sums, if not clearly defined as “rent” under the lease may not be satisfied through a distress. Thus, a landlord who seizes a tenant’s property for additional sums owed under the lease may find themselves in hot water. As a result, it is vital that seasoned legal counsel be consulted before exercising a distress.
Nevertheless, when faced with what can be a long and arduous eviction process in circuit court, a distress for rent can be just what a landlord needs to mitigate its damages. Messer Strickler, Ltd. has served as a resource for landlords for many years on such issues. Most recently, Messer Strickler, Ltd. facilitated a successful distress for rent for its commercial landlord client, 3357-59 N. Halsted Street, LLC (“Halsted”). Halsted was owed in excess of $85,000 in backed rent by tenant With a Stick, Inc. d/b/a Cocktail, which formerly operated a bar at the corner of Roscoe and Halsted streets. The Distress allowed Halsted to seize property from the bar to help satisfy the overdue rent. Halsted was so pleased with the results that it graciously allowed Messer Strickler, Ltd. to identify it in this post. You can read more about the distress through local news sources at:http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Cocktail-property-seized-over-rentdebts/41211 .html.
Contact Nicole Strickler at (312) 334-3442 for further information.