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Chicago woman overtaken by squatter hopes to work with Illinois lawmakers this summer on property rights

A Chicago woman is looking to have discussions with lawmakers this summer about how to increase penalties for squatters and decrease the blow for homeowners in the state of Illinois.

Darthula Young’s property that she inherited from her mother was taken over by a “professional squatter” in Sept. 2022. She received a phone call at the time from a neighbor that a shooting had occurred outside the property.

When she arrived, the locks were changed and there was a bullet hole in the window. The squatter has since been evicted from the property.  

“He was removed from the residence, and I would say he was removed probably in July of last year,” Young told Fox News Digital in a phone interview.

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In March 2023, Young told Jesse Watters, “He told me he’s a professional squatter, and he knows his rights, and he is not leaving.”

A Chicago woman went through many court hearings to evict a squatter who was residing in her late mother’s home. (Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

She also told Watters that she was going through the legal process to evict the squatter from her home.

The process of evicting the individual who was living in the property owned by Young was a lengthy one. She said she went to court “probably six or seven times” before he was evicted. 

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“The way the process is set up, it’s the same process as evicting a tenant,” Young explained. “First, I had to see a preliminary judge and the preliminary judge took about four meetings before I got to the trial judge.”

Young said she had multiple hearings with the trial judge and during the last one, he granted an eviction.

No trespassing sign

Darthula Young described dealing with the squatter as an “emotionally draining” and “overwhelming” process. (Adobe Stock)

Even though Young was able to remove the squatter from her property, a hefty bill burdened the homeowner, including a $3,500 water bill.

“I would say based on the fact that they were there a year, they didn’t pay rent, the water bill and all of the other damage to the property, they stole the utilities,” she told Fox News Digital. “I did file a police report for probably about $25,000 in damages.”

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Many police reports were filled out by Young, but one question she and others ask about squatters who take over homes is “what’s the recourse?” 

“I’m sure I can’t collect on my own personal damages or collect anything, but there is no recourse to the squatter,” Young said. 

Many concerned homeowners have turned to state legislatures in order to create laws to protect them and provide consequences for the squatters.

After Young found herself in this tolling situation with squatters, she decided to seek legislative action.

“I have talked to one of the state reps, who’s a realtor, and he’s very interested in introducing legislation,” Young said. 

Chicago police car seen sitting on a street

During the last court hearing, the squatter was evicted from the property. (iStock)

“Once the session is over, which should be over at the end of June, over the summer, we hope to sit down and talk about what type of legislation we can introduce for the state of Illinois,” Young said, noting the Florida bill signed in March 2024 by Gov. Ron DeSantis that increases penalties for squatters and helps protect homeowners.

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The entire process of dealing with squatters affects homeowners financially, but also emotionally. 

“It’s emotionally draining. It’s overwhelming,” Young said.

“The first time I got access to my mother’s apartment, and when the squatters moved in, we did get access and were able to go in, but to be there, and see that somebody has totally taken over all of her personal properties, and her things are there, I didn’t think it would make me emotional, but it made me very emotional,” she continued. 

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“As I went through this process, I was totally overwhelmed by it,” Young said. “The people that I have talked to who are going through this situation are saying the same thing. They are so overwhelmed by the situation, and we really don’t have recourse. The landlord has no recourse in terms of being able to file the criminal charges, because a lot of this is they break and enter and that is a criminal act.”

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