Property lines aren't usually visible unless you or your neighbor has a fence. Even then, the fence may be in the wrong place. Property line disputes are common, and the law regarding these issues varies by state. In Illinois, most property line issues involve easements, boundary disputes and adverse possession.
An easement is the right to use another person's land. Most easements allow an individual to use the land only for a specific purpose, such as for a road or to run electric lines. Other easements, known as negative easements, prohibit the land's owner from using it in a certain way. In Illinois, most individuals create easements through an express grant, which uses a contract or deed that records the details of the easement.
Claimants may also establish an easement in Illinois by implication, necessity or prescription. Claimants typically establish easements by implication when they purchase a piece of property that was once part of a larger estate and requires the use of nearby land not included in the purchase. Claimants establish easements by necessity by proving that they require the easement for the enjoyment of their property. To establish an easement by prescription, the claimant must show that he has used the property included in the easement for at least 20 years without contest from the property's owner.
When you and your neighbor are in dispute over property lines in Illinois, one of you will typically file a lawsuit. The court will examine your property lines and any filed easements. It will also consider the current use of the property. If the court discovers that an individual is using property he doesn't own, it will consider whether the property qualifies for an easement by necessity, implication or prescription. If it does not, the court will evict the offending party from the property.
Property disputes in Illinois may also involve adverse possession, which occurs when an individual claims property he doesn't own and eventually obtains legal rights to it. In Illinois, the adverse possessor must claim of the property publicly. Illinois doesn't require adverse possessors to make improvements on the property. However, the adverse possessor must pay taxes on the property for at least seven years. He must also have a title from the tax assessor for at least seven years.