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Real Estate - Water Front Property

Owners of property that is bounded by a navigable body of water are called riparian owners. Riparian owners are entitled to certain riparian rights. The most important of these rights is the right of access to the water.

A riparian owner is entitled to freedom from interference with access to the water that borders the owner's property, except that this right always remains subservient to the public's right to navigation. In other words, other people may legally interfere with an owner's access to the water in the limited sense that they are able to travel on the water that bounds the property in their boats, barges, and other watercraft.

Under Illinois law, riparian rights depend upon the type of body of water that the property borders. If the property is bounded by a stream or river, then the riparian owner has the exclusive right and title up to the center of the body of water, unless the terms of the grant of the property specifically state that the parcel ends at the edge or margin of the water. However, the owner cannot use the stream or river in such a way that it will interfere with navigation. On the other hand, if the land is bounded by a navigable lake or pond, the parcel extends only to the water's edge.

The Illinois Supreme Court has held that, if there are multiple owners of property that is bounded by or extends into a private, nonnavigable, natural, or artificial lake, each owner has the right to the reasonable use and enjoyment of the surface waters of the entire lake, provided such use does not unreasonably interfere with the rights of the other bordering property owners. Each owner has the right to swim, fish, or boat anywhere on the lake as long as there is no unreasonable interference with the other property owners' rights to do similar things. Examples of some unreasonable uses that would not be permitted under Illinois law include the erection of fences, booms, or barriers within the lake.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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