In what is sure to be remembered as a most bizarre situation, a local renter seeks a conviction against a landlord.
The issue, before the Illinois court is whether City Housing Authority has the right to evict tenant Joseph Wilson on a charge of alleged non-payment of rent, as well as not paying rent "on-time".
According to court papers filed by City Housing Authority, at issue is that tenant Joseph Wilson has been paying his monthly rent, for several years, with money orders. For un-specified reasons, City Housing Authority specifies that the agency prefers rent to be paid, by personal check.
During an interview, with City Housing Authority, this reporter questioned why tenant Joseph Wilson is being accused, when the records show that he has been paying, with money orders.
According to C.H.A. director Donna Summers (NO relation to the famous singer), City Housing Authority prefers to deter rent payment, via money orders, or cashiers checks. When questioned, all that director Summers would say is that personal checks are more efficient than money orders.
When asked to elaborate on this, director Summers declined to give details.
At the invitation, of Mr. Wilson, this reporter met with several, of Mr. Wilson's neighbors, nearly all of whom normally pay rent via personal check.
Of the 40 persons this reporter spoke with, no less than 35 of these tenants reported being called to the C.H.A. main office, about every other month, on the charge of late rent payment. According to tenants leases, City Housing Authority retains the legal right to charge an additional "late payment fee", in the amount of $25.00, beyond regular rent charges.
According to Mr. Wilson, none of the late fee's C.H. A. has brought against him have, ever, been paid. Mr. Wilson says that this is because, each time he is called in, on late payment, he takes his receipts to every meeting, with C.H.A. staff. Mr. Wilson reports that, each time he produces receipts, proving rent payment, C.H.A. is compelled to locate Mr. Wilson's payments, then C.H.A. is required to remove late fee's. Once this is done then, according to Mr. Wilson, staff members tell him to "Get out" of their offices.
In a preliminary court appearance, Mr. Wilson noted, for the county judge, how C.H.A. lawyer Ben Jones, repeatedly used the phrase "Monthly back-due payments INCLUDE the months of..." When Mr. Wilson asked the judge to be clear on exactly which months which the charges were focused on, the judge took both parties into the judges chambers, for a private chat. Back in the courtroom, attorney Ben Jones was instructed to have his client set a clear parameter, for what the case covered, saying "This case will be limited to specific dates".
At the second court appearance, Mr. Wilson brought along a ziploc bag, full of rent money order receipts. What all in presence were astonished by was the speed with which C.H.A. attorney Ben Jones objected to the presence of the receipts, in the courtroom. Mr. Jones said the receipts were biased, against his client, and that they have no bearing on the case.
When the judge reviewed some of the receipts, Mr. Jones was called before the bench, and informed "These are official money order receipts, and I am going to allow them". To this, Mr. Jones stated "I object", then when asked "On what grounds?", Mr. Jones added "On the grounds that the evidence is biased against my client".
It took the judge all of fie seconds to say "Overruled".
Three weeks later, the judge reported having made contact with the Illinois Supreme court, told both parties "This case places this court between a rock, and a hard place. The defense has shown proof of the landlord having committed fraud, in the charge of non-payment. The problem this court has, with this, is that a ruling against a landlord, will diminish managements ability to control tenants behaviour"
As of the printing of this story, the case remains open.