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Squatter’s Law and Vacant Properties

Those who own property in Illinois should make sure they understand the ins and outs of squatter’s rights and how it might affect the property owner’s vacant property. A squatter is someone who lives on someone else’s property without the permission of that owner. Those who are squatting have right in Illinois. If they can meet certain requirements under the Illinois Adverse Possession law, the squatters could have rights to your property. If the courts agree that they have a claim, they will get full legal rights to your property.

What Requirements Does a Squatter Need to Meet?

Getting squatters right in Illinois is not easy. However, with some vacant properties where the landlords are essentially absent, it is possible.

The squatters are required to have resided on the property for at least 20 years. Any less time than this, and they cannot claim the property. Additionally, the squatter needs to physically occupy the property just as the owner would.

They need to treat the property like they are the owner. An example of this would be making improvements on the property. They couldn’t merely hide a tent someone on a large property and claim to have lived there for 20 years without doing anything to benefit the property.

The squatter’s occupation of the property also needs to be obvious. They can’t try to hide that they are living on the property. It needs to be obvious to everyone, even the legal owner of the property, that someone is living there.

Also, the occupation needs to be hostile. However, in legal terms, this doesn’t mean violence or anger. Instead, “hostile” can mean one of three things:

  • The person squatting doesn’t necessarily know that the property they are living on belongs to someone else. This is called simple occupation.
  • The squatter knows that they are trespassing. This is known as awareness of trespassing.
  • Finally, there is the good-faith mistake, which might refer to someone who receives an invalid deed and believes they truly own the property when they actually don’t.

What Can You Do About Squatters?

As a landlord in Illinois, if you have a vacant property, you will want to make sure it is properly secured. You might also want to install security precautions, add no trespassing signs, and make sure you inspect the property regularly. If there is a squatter found on the property, you will want to speak with the attornies at Bell & Shah right away.

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