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Understanding Squatters’ Rights in Illinois in 2024

September 3, 2023
By Cam Dowski

In the realm of property law, one topic that often sparks controversy and confusion is squatters’ rights. In Illinois, as in many other states, squatters’ rights are governed by specific laws and regulations. This article aims to shed light on the subject, providing a comprehensive guide to squatters’ rights in Illinois in 2023.

What are Squatters’ Rights? 

Squatters’ rights, also known as adverse possession, refer to the legal concept that allows a person who occupies another person’s property without permission to claim ownership rights over that property under certain circumstances potentially. While this may seem puzzling at first, the intention behind squatters’ rights is to encourage the productive use of abandoned or neglected properties.

Requirements for Squatters’ Rights in Illinois

Specific criteria must be met to successfully claim squatters’ rights in Illinois. These requirements generally include:

  • Actual and exclusive possession

The squatter must have a physical occupation of the property and maintain exclusive control over it. Merely visiting or using the property occasionally is insufficient.

  • Open and notorious occupation

The squatter must openly and visibly occupy the property, making it evident to the property owner and the public.

  • Continuous possession

The squatter must maintain uninterrupted occupation of the property for a specified period. In Illinois, this period is typically 20 years, although there may be exceptions depending on the circumstances. Some states require a much longer period, and some require as little as 10 years. Fun Fact: Our friends at Maui Home Buyers confirmed that Hawaii’s continuous possession requirement is also 20 years.

  • Hostile and adverse possession

The squatter’s possession must be without the permission or consent of the property owner. It should be noteworthy that “hostile” does not refer to aggressive or confrontational behavior but rather the absence of legal authorization.

  • Payment of property taxes

In some cases, the squatter may be required to pay property taxes on the occupied property to strengthen their claim of adverse possession.

Exceptions and Limitations

It is essential to recognize that squatters’ rights do not apply universally. There are certain exceptions and limitations that can impact a squatter’s ability to claim ownership. Some of these include:

Properties owned by the government: Squatters’ rights generally do not apply to government-owned properties, including public land or buildings.

  • Abandoned properties

Squatters’ rights may be more applicable to properties abandoned or neglected by their owners. If the property is actively maintained and the owner can demonstrate regular involvement, adverse possession claims may be more challenging.

  • Good faith purchasers

If a new owner purchases a property from a squatter who claimed adverse possession, the new owner may be protected from the squatter’s claim if they bought the property in good faith without knowledge of the squatter’s presence.

Legal Procedures and Recommendations

While claiming squatters’ rights may be a possibility in some cases, it is crucial to navigate the legal landscape carefully. Engaging in open dialogue with the property owner and seeking legal advice from an experienced attorney specializing in real estate law is highly recommended.


Squatters’ rights in Illinois can be a complex and contentious area of property law. It is important for both property owners and potential squatters to understand the legal requirements and limitations surrounding adverse possession. By knowing the laws and seeking appropriate legal guidance, all parties involved can ensure a fair and lawful resolution when dealing with squatters’ rights in Illinois in 2023.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. For specific legal questions or concerns, consult a qualified attorney familiar with the laws of your jurisdiction.

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