Changing Locks of Deadbeat Tenant Was Constructive Eviction
What Happened: A landlord was concerned that a fitness center that was way behind on rent would suddenly move and take all of its equipment. So, it went to court to get what in Illinois is called a “distress warrant” granting a lien on a tenant’s personal property to secure its obligation to pay rent. It also changed the tenant’s locks just to make sure the exercise equipment was safe. The tenant claimed the landlord committed constructive eviction, and the court agreed.
Ruling: The Illinois appeals court tossed the landlord’s appeal.
Reasoning: The distress warrant gave the landlord to right only to seize the exercise equipment and take reasonable steps to keep the tenant from moving or selling it. In changing the locks, the landlord went beyond its rights under the warrant and engaged in illegal self-help. And because the landlord was guilty of constructive eviction, the tenant was no longer on the hook for future rent under the lease acceleration clause.
- Ivanhoe Shoppes, LLC v. Bauspies: 2021 IL App (2d) 200582, 2021 Ill. App. LEXIS 483