Understanding Squatters Rights in Illinois
Adverse possession is applicable in Illinois when squatters move into a vacant property without permission and live there openly and continuously. The state does have a unique set of laws when compared to the rest of the US for squatter's rights, however, and this works to the advantage of the property owner.
1. Squatters must openly occupy a property without permission for a minimum of 20 years to be given the chance to transfer the deed.
2. Out of those 20 years, they must for 7 years either pay the property taxes. They must also be operating under the Color of Title for a minimum of 7 years.
In Illinois, both land and structures can be occupied without permission. The same adverse possession guidelines apply for vacant land or vacant structures. To claim adverse possession, however, the squatters must be caring for the property as if it were already their own, including payment of utilities, exterior and interior care, and HOA fees in addition to property taxes.
What Can Property Owners Do About Squatters?
Illinois law prevents property owners from initiating any action to recover their property either on their own or through a hired party. If the property was not vacant, however, Illinois criminal law may make it possible for officials to remove the squatters. Coming home from a 2 week vacation to find squatters is very different than abandoning a property and leaving it vacant without foreclosure or deed transfer. Property owners may not even enter their property if squatters are located on the premises.
The standard eviction process must be followed to evict squatters in Illinois. This means a notice must be delivered with a date to leave that is in compliance with landlord-tenant law. Once the notice expires, a court order can be sought which will allow a Sheriff's deputy to eventually remove the squatters if the court finds in favor of the property owner. There are easy ways to remedy this situation as a property owner. Just the act of paying the property taxes every year will automatically nullify any adverse possession claims. The squatters would still have the rights of tenants, but the deed for the property would not switch. In doing so, all ownership rights would remain protected.
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