Illinois Sheriff Suspends All Evictions
Cook County, Illinois is somewhat of a celebrity-by-infamy in the mortgage servicing community. The county has long had a high number of foreclosures, and an equally long record of consumer activism to go with it as well. It's time to add Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to that list; the sheriff recently has starting this week refused to evict tenants when their landlord is foreclosed upon, and has suspended all evictions in the county as a result, according to a CNN report earlier this week. "No part of our job is as difficult as the work done by our eviction units," he said in an op-ed published Thursday by the Chicago Sun-Times. "On any given day, our deputies could be asked to throw a family out of their home, with all of their possessions left on a curb -- sometimes pilfered through by those living nearby." "These mortgage companies ... don't care who's in the building," Dart said Wednesday in a CNN television interview. "They simply want their money and don't care who gets hurt along the way. "On top of it all, they want taxpayers to fund their investigative work for them. We're not going to do their jobs for them anymore. We're just not going to evict innocent tenants. It stops today." The Illinois Mortgage Bankers Association said the decision was made without any involvement or input from it or the national Mortgage Bankers Association it is affiliated with, and noted that the vast majority of evictions involve former owners, and not renters. Cook County is currently on pace to record more than 43,000 evictions this year, according to county records. "While we applaud Sheriff Dart's motivations, his office is obligated to honor the orders of state and federal courts, issued after a hearing on the merits of the foreclosure complaints," the association said in a press statement Thurday. "The refusal to do so in the case of valid eviction orders would not only place Dart's office in contempt of court, but also place at risk the willingness of lenders to underwrite loans in Cook County." HW's sources -- three attorneys that practice in creditor's rights -- were far less forgiving of Dart's motivations. "He should go to jail, plain and simple," said one attorney, who asked not to be identified in this story. Another attorney said that Dart was "lying through his teeth" about the situation, and said that Dart himself had undermined the very procedures that would have notified tenants of a pending eviction involving their residence. "Fixing this problem would have been a simple matter of a procedural change, one that used to be forced via Federal court order three years or so ago. "He essentially chose to stop giving notice to tenants years ago after the federal order expired, and is now blaming the lenders for not knowing who is in the property because of his own office's actions. It's grandstanding with no basis in fact." Another attorney mused that Dart appeared to "be running for political office, rather than worrying about enforcing the law." Dart's office had not returned a call for comment regarding Cook County's eviction procedures involving tenants by the time this story was published.