Illinois squatter laws make are making it hard for a Chicago family attempting to regain possession of a home left to them by their mother from a "professional squatter" who changed the locks and has refused to leave for the last six months
In Illinois, squatters are individuals who illegally occupy someone else's property, without the owner's consent or permission. Current laws in Illinois make it hard for homeowners to remove squatters from their property, and the process can take a long time and can be extremely expensive.
Recently, a Chicago resident reported that a squatter with a lengthy criminal record had moved into the home she'd inherited from her mother and refused to leave. Darthula Young said that a neighbor called her to say that she'd heard gunshots coming from the house. Young went to the home to find that all the locks had been changed, and the front window had a bullet how through it. Someone had, in fact, been shot in the house and when he was released from the hospital, he returned there and told both Young and the police that he lived there now and had rights as a squatter.
The police informed her there was nothing they could do and that she'd have to involve the courts to get her home back which she has been trying to do for the past six months with no luck. The squatter has been arrested at least six times on weapons and drug charges. He stated he was in the process of trying to find somewhere else to live.
To add insult to injury, since someone is technically living in the home, the utilities company will not shut off the water or power, bills the actual owner will be responsible for paying.
In another recent case, a woman wanted to sell her Chicago home only to find squatters had moved in. They claimed they'd signed a six-month lease and paid several months rent though they couldn't prove it. It took the actual owner three months to get a court date and since the squatter didn't show up, another date was assigned. Fearful that the squatters know how to delay the court proceedings, the owner expects it to take at least 12 to 18 months to have them evicted.
In many cases, squatters claim that they have a right to occupy a property under certain circumstances, such as when they have been living there for a long time without interruption. Not only is it difficult to evict squatters who have taken up residence in your home, but under Illinois law, squatters can claim actual ownership of a property if they occupy it for a certain period of time and meet certain legal requirements. This is known as adverse possession, and it can be used by squatters to legally gain ownership of a property.
Some of the legal requirements for an adverse possession claim include living on the premises continuously for 20 years, not using the building for illegal purposes and paying all taxes for the property during the time they lived there.
The problem with these laws is that they can create situations where homeowners are unable to regain control of their own property. Squatters may refuse to leave, or they may engage in illegal activities on the property, which can pose a risk to the safety of the homeowner and their family. Homeowners may have to go through a lengthy legal process to evict squatters, which can be expensive and time-consuming. The property may also be severely damaged during the time the squatter lived there and they have no accountability or responsibility to pay any repair costs or bills from this time.
To protect yourself from squatters taking over a home that belongs to you, homeowners in Illinois can take certain steps, such as securing their property, monitoring it regularly, putting up "no trespassing" signs, installing an alarm system and making sure you pay property taxes each year. You can also seek legal advice and take action as soon as you become aware of a squatter on your property. However, do not take matters into your own hands by changing the locks or trying to forcibly remove them yourself. You must go through the Sheriff and the courts. But it's better, if at all possible, to prevent a squatter from taking up residence in the first place than, to have to have them evicted.
Overall, the current Illinois squatter laws can be a problem for homeowners, as they can make it difficult for them to regain control of their property. It is important for homeowners to take proactive measures to protect themselves and their property from squatters.
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