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Illinois Adverse Possession Laws

Most of us may have never heard of adverse possession before. And depending on your perspective, the idea adverse possession can seem like a justified transfer of land to someone who will actually put the property to a more beneficial use or an unfair theft of land by squatters. So how does it work in practice, and what are the legal particulars in Illinois?

Adverse possession is when an individual publicly moves into an otherwise neglected property, improves this property, and is therefore granted title to it after a period of time. Illinois adverse possession laws require claimants to occupy a given property for at least 20 years and either "color or title" or payment of property taxes for seven of those years.

Otherwise known as "squatters' rights," adverse possession laws are frequently are invoked by squatters who inhabit land or structures otherwise left unused. The term "adverse" refers to the fact that those claiming land are doing so against the interests of the actual title holders. Seems strange, doesn't it? It is a unique area of real estate law.

The Illinois adverse possession statute states:

Twenty years ‑ Recovery of land.

No person shall commence an action for the recovery of lands, nor make an entry thereon, unless within 20 years after the right to bring such action or make such entry first accrued, or within 20 years after he, she or those from, by, or under whom he or she claims, have acquired title or possession of the premises, except as provided in Sections 13‑102 through 13‑122 of this Act.

Learn about the basic provisions of Illinois adverse possession laws in the table below. See Adverse Possession: Continuous Trespassers' Rights for more details.

Code Section 735 ILCS 5/13-101, et seq.
Time Period Required for Occupation 20 yrs. and Color of Title: 7 yrs. and Payment of Taxes: 7 yrs.
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability After disability lifted: 2 yrs.
Improvements -
Payment of Taxes -
Title from Tax Assessor 7 yrs.

Note: State laws are constantly changing, and as you can see, adverse possession laws are anything but straightforward. It's easy to miscalculate and/or make a procedural mistake that could be costly. With that in mind, you should contact an Illinois real estate attorney in addition to conducting your own legal research. 

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