Squatting is when someone locates an uninhabited or vacant dwelling and moves in, but they don't discuss that with the property owner beforehand. Most people think this is breaking and entering, but it often isn't. Therefore, it's crucial to understand the laws in Nevada to ensure that you deal with squatters appropriately. Let's learn more!
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Who Is a Nevada Squatter?
A squatter occupies an unoccupied, abandoned, or foreclosed building or land area without the owner's permission. They don't own or rent the property, living there for free and often damaging things. Regardless, squatting is considered common in the US.
Squatting isn't always considered trespassing. Though trespassing is often a criminal offense, squatting is a civil matter. Still, squatting could be treated as criminal behavior if the landlord or landowner determines that the questionable person isn't welcome.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Nevada has strict laws in place about handling squatters, though it's easy to remove them if they're there without the owner's permission. Squatting isn't allowed in Nevada, and there are now laws against housebreaking and unlawful occupancy, which could stop the adverse possession claim before it starts.
- If someone is convicted of unlawful occupancy, they're guilty of a criminal offense. This gross misdemeanor holds $2,000 in fines and one year in jail. Likewise, if someone gets convicted three times, they will have a category D felony on their hands. This includes at least one and up to four years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
- Squatters have rights in Nevada, but they have to fulfill the adverse possession requirements to get them. If they won't meet those parameters, they're arrested and called criminal trespassers.
- Squatters are often neighbors who want the title of the land, but they can be complete strangers.
What Are Holdover Tenants?
Holdover tenants are called tenants at sufferance, and they stay behind on the property once the lease ends. Typically, holdover tenants aren't the same as squatters, so you'll deal with them differently.
In most cases, holdover tenants will continue to pay rent based on the rental agreement. The landlord can choose to accept that with no issues, so the tenant is then called a "tenant at will." They're ultimately there because the landlord approves, and they could be evicted whenever the landlord sees fit.
When holdover tenants get the notice to quit, they are required to leave or will face a lawsuit. Generally, a holdover tenant can't make an adverse possession claim because they're told to go and were living there while paying rent. They could become a criminal trespasser if they don't vacate the property as requested.
What Is an Adverse Possession Claim in Nevada?
Unlawful occupancy happens when the squatter occupies the space without the owner's permission. However, they could gain legal property rights after a specified time because they reside there. Nevada requires five continuous years of occupation before the squatter can make an adverse possession case.
Still, the adverse possession laws also state that, before they can take legal ownership of the property, they must pay property taxes for the full length of time they're there.
When squatters claim adverse possession, they will get lawful permission to stay on the property and won't be considered criminal trespassers.
The United States has five legal requirements the squatter should meet before making an adverse possession claim. If the five elements below and the payment of taxes aren't met, squatters cannot file adverse possession claims in Nevada.
The trespasser must physically live on the property, treating it as if it were their own. There are multiple ways to establish this, such as documenting beautification and maintenance the squatter performed. This includes cleaning up debris, planting flowers, and maintaining the lawn. It's like they have property ownership, even if they don't.
The legal definition of a hostile claim doesn't involve danger or violence. Overall, there are three definitions that Nevada could choose. They include:
- Good Faith Mistake - Some states use this rule. This means the trespasser made a good-faith mistake while occupying the property. They might have seen incorrect or invalid deeds and had no idea that the property wasn't theirs to use.
- Awareness of Trespassing - With this rule, the trespasser must be aware that the land belongs to someone else, and they're trespassing if they use it. They know they've got no legal right to be there.
- Simple Occupation - Most states use this rule, and it means "occupation of the land." In fact, the trespasser doesn't need to be aware the land belongs to another party.
The trespasser is the only one who can live on the land. They can't share with the owner, other squatters, a holdover tenant, or strangers.
Open and Notorious Possession
Open and notorious means it's obvious to others than someone's squatting. They cannot hide that they're living there from anyone, including the property owner. Likewise, the landlord or owner should investigate to ensure there's a squatter and follow the steps listed below.
The adverse possession laws state that a squatter has to live on the property for a continuous time frame. They cannot leave for weeks or months and return later to stake their claim. In fact, they must live there for five full years before they can do anything legally.
Does Nevada Law Recognize Color of Title?
Color of title often comes up when researching squatters rights. In simple terms, color of title indicates that property ownership isn't regular. The one in possession lacks the correct registrations or documents.
Nevada doesn't shorten the required continuous possession period if the squatter has color of title. Likewise, it's not necessary to have this to make an adverse possession claim, though it might help with case validity.
Will the Squatter Be Required to Pay Property Taxes?
Nevada law requires squatters to pay property taxes before they can make an adverse possession claim. They must show proof they paid property taxes for the full five years of the continuous possession time frame.
In fact, the paid property taxes include county, state, and municipal taxes, which can be quite expensive. It's unknown if they can do it all at once or must pay every year.
Getting Rid of Squatters as a Property Owner or Landlord
Nevada has added new laws recently to make it easier for landlords and landowners to remove squatters from the property. There are also provisions for those with legal disabilities. Therefore, if the property owner is legally incompetent, a minor, or imprisoned (not a life sentence), they have two more years after their disability is lifted for retaking possession of the property.
New laws might also stop adverse possession claims from passing. For example, the Unlawful Occupancy rule allows police officers to remove squatters, charging them with the gross misdemeanor charge. Before the law, the local police couldn't do much. Now, squatters could be arrested while on the property.
Typically, the police will make an arrest if possible. However, the landlord must legally reclaim the property through a specific process, which is called a Notice to Surrender or Notice of Retaking Possession. This must happen 24 hours after the trespasser is arrested. Likewise, they can file a notice for changing of locks. By simply filing these documents, they protect themselves from reentry.
Those notices should be posted for a full 21 days to provide squatters with time to take legal action if necessary. Squatters could file the Verified Complaint for Reentry, and the trial will be within 10 days. During this time, the property should be unoccupied.
Sometimes, the police cannot arrest the squatter. In this case, the landlord would go through a civil process, similar to an eviction, which is directed solely at squatters. Typically, the landlord calls the police, but they cannot make an arrest. Then, they serve a Notice to Surrender, which gives the squatter four days.
Typically, the notice to surrender outlines that the squatter could be removed within 24 hours if they forced entry into the property. Likewise, it should say that the squatter must leave within four days unless they file an oppositional affidavit.
There are also rules regarding how the property owner will serve the notice to surrender. First, they should attempt to do it in person with a witness. Then, they could mail it or post a copy somewhere it will be seen while on the property. Otherwise, a constable will serve the notice.
The occupant could choose to leave or file an affidavit, though this won't guarantee a hearing. If the judge grants a hearing, it's scheduled within seven judicial days. Typically, the court gives more time to the occupant or presents a removal order.
If the squatter leaves behind personal property, the landlord is required to store it for 14 days. Generally, the squatter must pay all the fees associated with storage, inventory, and moving. If it's not reclaimed after 14 days, the owner can do whatever they want with it.
Generally, this is much easier, and the landlord doesn't have to go through the traditional eviction process. Plus, it helps to prevent squatters from staying too long on the property or working the system.
How DoorLoop Can Help You Create Documents with Ease
Understanding squatters rights in Nevada is complicated. Though this guide gives you the information you need, it's still important to realize that it could take time for everything to get processed.
Overall, you'll need to create notices, and the easiest way to do that is through DoorLoop. Check out the rental laws in Nevada now, or download the forms you'll need to create and send to the squatter!
...And don't forget to schedule a free DoorLoop demo to see how it can revolutionize your business!
How Do You Protect Your Property from Squatters?
The best way to avoid squatters in your home is to always use a rental agreement and never have a vacant property. However, this isn't always possible, especially when someone moves in and squats while you're trying to get things cleaned up and ready for a new tenant. Therefore, you can follow these tips to protect yourself from squatters:
- Keep the windows and doors closed, use locks, and block all the entrances.
- Regularly inspect your property for issues.
- Pay property taxes on time or early whenever possible.
- Ask the squatters to rent the property legally from you.
- Serve a written notice the moment you see squatters on your property.
- Work with a lawyer. Sometimes, you might have to take legal action to remove a squatter from the property. Legal counsel will help you stick to the law and do things correctly.
- Call the police to see if they can arrest the squatters for trespassing. There are new laws in Nevada, so it's best to let the professionals take over whenever possible.
What Are the Adverse Possession Claim Requirements in Nevada?
It is possible for a squatter to gain legal property rights, but it isn't easy. They will have to file an adverse possession claim, which means meeting these key requirements:
- Living on the property for a full five years
- Being the sole occupant of that property
- Physically living on the property
- Having a hostile claim
- Maintaining the property
Why Are Squatters Bad for Your Nevada Home?
Squatters are living on your property illegally. They rarely pay property taxes, they won't give you rent money, and they often do serious damage to the property while they stay there.
From a legal sense, squatters cost landlords money. You have to file petitions and get a court order to make the person leave. Sometimes, in Nevada, they can be arrested by the police, but this isn't always possible. Likewise, you can't use the property or rent it to others until you get the squatters removed.
How Do You Evict Squatters in Nevada?
Instead of the traditional eviction process, Nevada allows you to file a four-day notice to surrender or file for Unlawful Occupancy.
If the squatter doesn't get permission from the owner to be on the property, they're guilty of a crime called unlawful occupancy. Police can arrest them. However, local law enforcement might be unable to do this for various reasons. Therefore, you'll file a four-day notice to surrender, which often takes less time than a regular eviction.