Squatters Rights in Illinois 

By PropertyClub Team
Aug 19th 2023
A squatter is an individual who lives on a property they have no legal claim over. In Illinois, squatters gain rights through adverse possession laws. An owner must fully understand the situation before taking legal action against an undesired occupant, especially when differentiating between squatters and trespassers. 

hash-markSquatting vs. Trespassing in Illinois 

In Illinois, a squatter is an individual occupying vacant, foreclosed, or abandoned property without the owner's permission. Unlike a squatter, a trespasser knowingly inhabits a property while being fully aware it is illegal. In most cases, trespassing often involves breaking and entering a property, with the trespasser having criminal intent. 

hash-markHow Squatters Claim Adverse Possession in Illinois 

Adverse possession laws explain what a person who occupies someone else's property without permission needs to do to legally claim possession of it. In Illinois, if someone wants to claim another person's property through adverse possession, they must meet five required elements. Besides these five requirements, they also need to have paid property taxes during that time and not have used the property for illegal activities like prostitution or drug dealing.

1. Actual Possession 

Actual possession requires the squatter to occupy the property as if they were the owner. In other words, once they physically inhabit the property, they must maintain and upkeep it as an owner would. In a legal context, actual possession solidifies the formal relationship between the property and the resider by creating a sense of ownership. 

2. Hostile Possession 

Hostile possession refers to exercising control over or using a property without the owner's permission. It can happen in a few different ways and doesn't necessarily have to be intentional. For example, if a neighbor builds a fence over a part of your property and uses it as theirs, this may be unintentional hostile possession. In the case of squatters, they typically knowingly trespass and use the property as their own. In all these cases, the person essentially takes over the property without permission, which is hostile possession.

3. Open and Notorious Possession 

Open and notorious possession means that the squatter is not hiding their occupancy from the property owner. It is "open" or visibly obvious to anyone who looks at the property that the squatter is in possession of it. The possession must also be "notorious," meaning that other people know about it, including the property owner. It is not something that is kept secret or hidden by the squatter. 

4. Exclusive Possession 

To qualify for the element of exclusive possession, the squatter must be the only individual occupying the property. Single squatters have the right to claim adverse possession if there aren't additional squatters living on the site. If the owner was to find more than one squatter on their property, adverse possession cannot be claimed. 

5. Continuous Possession 

Continuous possession refers to the timeframe a squatter must have occupied a property to claim their right of adverse possession. In the state of Illinois, that timeframe is 20 years. Therefore, a squatter must have continuously lived on the property for 20 years to claim adverse possession in Illinois. If the squatter were to temporarily leave the residence, they could no longer claim adverse possession. 

hash-markHow to Evict Squatters in Illinois 

In Illinois, property owners may evict squatters that are illegally occupying their property. To evict a squatter in Illinois, following the proper legal procedure and ensuring you do not infringe upon the squatter's rights is essential. 

The first step in evicting a squatter in Illinois is to call the police to file a police report. Then, the owner must serve the squatter with a notice to vacate the premises. If the squatter refuses to vacate the property by that date, the owner may take legal action by filing an eviction lawsuit. The court will then determine whether the squatters can claim adverse possession. If the squatters do not meet all the elements of adverse possession, they will be evicted. 

hash-markIllinois Squatters Rights Bottom Line 

In Illinois, there are rules called "squatters' rights" that relate to a concept called adverse possession. To legally claim adverse possession over a property, a squatter needs to meet five specific conditions, including actual, hostile, exclusive, continuous, and open and notorious possession. If these conditions aren't met, the actual owner of the property can take legal steps to remove the squatter.

Whether you're a property owner or a squatter, you must understand these rules well and follow the proper legal process that Illinois squatter laws lay out for evicting squatters or claiming adverse possession.