CHICAGO (CBS) – Dolton police are still searching for a man who critically wounded his former girlfriend and her son with a shotgun. Police say the man had been squatting illegally for six months in a HUD-owned home.
Complaints about the site of the Dolton shootings came long before the shots were fired.
“Well, they was doing a lot of things I don’t want to say on TV,” Dolton Trustee Tiffany Henyard said. “But they was doing some issues that residents did complain about.”
Village officials say the home is owned by HUD, and overseen by Florida-based PK Management, which “became aware of a squatter on the property” and “Began the eviction process.”
But that process can be lengthy.
“It’s not easy to get a tenant out of a unit and it’s the same situation if it’s a squatter,” said Robert Khan, an attorney specializing in evictions.
Khan files hundreds of evictions a year for landlords.
“The actual eviction process can take two to three months,” Khan said. “The sheriff could take another month or two to put him out, so it could take anywhere from three to five months to actually have them put out.”
That’s because Illinois law gives all tenants extensive legal rights, which advocates for renters defend.
“We run into things on the opposite end of the scale, where landlords are going and changing the locks on doors, shutting the heat off, basically forcing someone to leave without going to court,” John Bartlestt with the Metropolitan Tenants Organization said.
Whether tenant or squatter, sheriffs can’t throw anyone out of a property without a court order.
“You have to serve a squatter with something called a demand for immediate possession,” Kahn said. “If the squatter doesn’t move out in a day or two, you can file a case in eviction court.”
That’s only the start, and renters’ advocates insist, that’s only proper.
“It really does need to have some protocols and rules to displace someone from their home,” Bartlett said.
The Chicago attorney representing PK Management said they hope to have a court-issued eviction order for the sheriff sometime next month.
After the double shooting, it’s questionable whether the squatter, identified as a 30-year-old man, will ever return.