We’ve been doing some research on the legality of storage facilities utilizing lien law in Illinois to “legally” steal the property of citizens who fall behind on their rent payments. The law as written is called The Illinois “We’re Rich But We’re Gonna Steal Your Stuff Anyway” Act.
No, it SHOULD be called the Illinois “We’re Gonna Steal Your Stuff” Act, but it’s actually called “770 ILCS 95/ Self-Service Storage Facility Act”.
This act provides remedies for storage facilities whose customers are delinquent on their rent. Apparently unhappy with the mere ability to steal their customers stuff practically at will, the storage companies and their wholly owned servants in the Illinois Legislature are working to buttress their “rights” under it as you read this.
[We found many websites that provide citizens with the text of all the laws that protect the “rights” of storage companies to steal your stuff. That’s not surprising, because it appears that many of these websites were created by various storage companies in order to make it LOOK like their customers have no legal way to fight these anti-renter laws. But that’s just what big money always does: tries to pull the wool over our eyes and make us – all 300 million of us – feel small and insignificant in comparison to the relative handful of them.]
The Illinois Self-service Storage Facility Act does not REQUIRE the companies to take brutal action by asserting their rights to place liens on their customers’ property every chance they get; whether or not the storage companies choose to enforce the rights they were granted under this act is completely up to them. They can decide to allow you to make payments if they want; they can give you as much time to catch up with the payments as you need. But they’re not trying to be fair – THEY WANT TO STEAL YOUR STUFF!
If all the citizens of Illinois had to defend their property rights were crappy laws like this one, we’d all be having our stuff stolen by every scumbag in the state. But happily, that is not the case.
The Illinois Constitution, following the language of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, provides the following sweeping protection from wanton, illegal property seizures:
“SECTION 2. DUE PROCESS AND EQUAL PROTECTION No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law nor be denied the equal protection of the laws.”
However, many court decisions at the state and US Supreme Court level have ruled that private individuals can’t be charged with the denial of due process simply because they are utilizing existing state and local laws governing their actions to screw their customers over because the storage companies are not “state actors”. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand this baloney, but you need to be brainwashed through 8 years of law school to come to the conclusion that laws like this that allow rich people to steal the property of poor people somehow make for a civilized society.
In 2006, a landmark Illinois Court of Appeals ruling gave a nice, concise (though seemingly very poor in terms of its legal argument) rundown of the existing state of the law pertaining to storage facilities and their “rights” under lien laws in HILL vs. PS ILLINOIS TRUST.
We recommend reading this interesting decision. Seems that one Theo Hill had his stuff stolen – legally – by PS Illinois Trust and he sought legal remedies in good old C(r)ook County! And guess what? The crooked-ass C(r)ook County Court ruled against him in the case. Crook County – the crookedest county in the crookedest state in the United States – always defends the rich and brutalizes the poor. The whole world knows how crooked C(r)ook County is! So Mr. Hill and his law team appealed the case to the Illinois Appellate Court – where part of his argument was shot down for arcane and poorly reasoned reasons – but another part was upheld! And that’s where we all have a chance to kick some of these storage companies’ asses!
You see, even though the self-storage companies have managed to bribe enough crooked Illinois senators and representatives to get the “We’re Rich but We’re Gonna Steal Your Stuff Anyway” Act passed, there is another set of laws that provides the citizens of Illinois with a very thin but useful layer of protection from the thieves at the storage companies:
Under this set of laws, the citizens of Illinois have some legal remedies for “deceptive business practices” as well as “immoral” practices. And this is where the rubber can hit the road for those of us who need to deal with a lien action coming from a self-storage facility.
Theo Hill, in his appeal of his case, asserted that the crooked C(r)ook County Court “erred in dismissing Count II of his complaint because he adequately stated a cause of action under the unfair conduct prong of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.”
And the Appellate Court agreed with him! We quote at length from the final paragraphs of Hill vs. PS Illinois Trust:
“In dismissing Count II of the complaint, the trial court found: ‘Plaintiff fails to allege that [PS] did not comply with the provisions of the Self Storage Facilities Act; therefore, Plaintiff fails to allege facts that constitute a violation of the act on any basis, let alone unfairness.’
“Plaintiff’s complaint, however, alleged PS violated the CFA’s prohibition against unfair practices by failing to provide plaintiff with any form of statutorily-required notice that his property was being sold. Plaintiff specifically alleged that he ‘never received notice, either by telephone, in-person delivery or certified mail, that [PS] would be seeking to enforce the lien created in its favor,’ as ‘required both by the Act itself–see 770 ILCS 95/4(A)(C)–and by the express terms of the rental agreement Plaintiff signed.’ Plaintiff also alleged PS engaged in unfair conduct by: failing to inform him of the outcome of the lien sale, or even acknowledge that it was statutorily required to return any surplus from such sale to plaintiff on demand; selling his personal property without allowing him the opportunity to exercise his statutory right to redeem the property; and failing to return to him any funds recouped from the sale of goods over and above the lien amount after defendant made a demand for the surplus.
“Furthermore, plaintiff alleged PS’s conduct offended Illinois public policy, as embodied in the Storage Act; was unethical and oppressive because it was contrary to well-established industry practices and afforded him no reasonable opportunity to avoid the lien sale; and significantly harmed him because he lost nearly all of his possessions, including items of inestimable personal and sentimental value.
“After reviewing the allegations contained in Count II of the complaint, taking them as true, we find they were sufficient to state a cause of action under the CFA for unfair conduct.
“We therefore conclude the trial court erred in dismissing Count II of plaintiff’s complaint.
“We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of Count I of plaintiff’s complaint. We reverse the trial court’s dismissal of Count II of plaintiff’s complaint and remand for further proceedings.”
Hill’s “half-a-loaf” therefore becomes, for us, a meal. We need to do some more research on this case to see how his case was finally adjudicated and to determine what remedies he sought for relief from PS Storage Trust under the Illinois Consumer protection laws.
We just discovered this information ourselves, so we need some time to read it over and see what we need to do in order to wage a successful legal battle against the storage companies who want to STEAL YOUR STUFF! Look for another article on this subject in the near future. Meanwhile, we’d like to thank Mr. Theo Hill for having the guts to stand up for his rights and for the rights of every citizen of the state of Illinois by taking legal action on behalf of us all in battling PS Storage Trust. If we had more citizens like Mr. Hill, this would be a much better country for working people to live in than it is.
Oh yeah, one other thing we almost forgot to mention: PUBLIC STORAGE SUCKS!