Squatting In Nevada and The Laws
Squatting is not anything new, but recently has come to light due to increased homelessness and the real estate market craze after the pandemic.
So what exactly is squatting according to the law?
Well in Nevada squatting is unlawfully occupying another person’s empty home or dwelling without their permission or the permission of the owner’s representative.
We have all seen the news and even a few documentaries about Las Vegas and the problem of squatting.
These news stories shed light on the problem of squatting but only as far as the problem and what people are doing to try and stop it.
Since Las Vegas in particular is a very transient city, there are a lot of houses, condos and apartments that are vacant for many reasons.
Vacant properties can be in the middle of a real estate transaction or the owner lives in another state so they are not there to keep an eye on the property.
Also properties can be foreclosed on by the bank and the bank hasn’t checked up on the property since the foreclosure.
But what about someone who was hired for a job with a family that requires them to live with the family such as a nanny?
What happens if the family terminates the employment after many years?
What happens then?
Many of these scenarios are actual events that have happened.
But what if you have permission?
Or you believe you have the right to be there?
Or you have a lease agreement, then you’re not guilty of squatting but it may not be as cut and dry.
If you have been accused of squatting and you think that you have the right to occupy the property then you need a good defense attorney with experience with real estate transactions as well as real estate law.
FAQ’s We Hear All The Time –
Do squatters have rights in Nevada?
How do I prove my squatters rights?
Is squatting a civil or criminal offence?
Penalties for Squatting or Occupying a Dwelling Without Permission
Squatting is considered a gross misdemeanor in Nevada.
The penalty for squatting is up to 364 days in jail and up to a $2000 fine.
If you have been arrested and convicted previously of squatting on 3 or more occasions than the squatting charge can be considered a class D felony.
A class D felony is punishable by 1-4 years in prison and/or up to a $5000 fine to be determined by the court.
What are the Common Defenses of Squatting
Each case is different, so are the defenses against squatting.
But based on the case facts, here are the most common defenses against squatting.
- You had the owners permission- For example you were being paid to stay at the home and watch the property or maybe the animals while the owners away. Then you had the owner’s permission to be in the dwelling when the owner wasn’t present.
- You reasonably believed you had the owners permission- Again you were hired to water the plants but the owner said “ hey if you want to crash at my place while I’m away” You can reasonably assume you had permission from the owner to stay at the residence.
- You did not actually live in the dwelling- If you were hired to do a job that required you to be in the dwelling for an extended period of time but you did not redie there and can prove you went to another address to live.
- The location is not a dwelling- To be considered a dwelling in Nevada or a dwelling unit means that the structure is intended for occupancy or sleeping place by a person who maintains the household or by more people who maintain a common household like roommates. So if you never stayed at the dwelling and slept in front of it in a tent as an example you may be guilty of trespassing but not squatting.
- Illegal search – If the police were called about a possible squatting incident and they entered any dwelling without a search warrant then they are guilty of illegal search and any evidence that was collected can be dismissed by the court. They can even disregard all the evidence collected during an illegal search.
What do You Need as Proof?
Having some evidence to prove your defense is key.
Everyone should keep good records with any real estate transactions.
Having any of the following can be considered evidence in your case.
- Rental or lease agreement
- Tax payment receipts
- Transfer of ownership documents
- Work orders- if you were doing work on the property
- Employment agreements-a household employment agreement
- Texts, phone or video recordings
- Witness statements for any of the above
Having any of these documents can prove that you were in fact squatting and have a right to be on the property.
A good defense team will gather all this evidence and present it to the court.
What Other Crimes are Associated With Squatting
Squatting by itself is not a felony right away but sometimes the police will add charges that are much worse than the squatting charges.
They may do this because another crime seems to have been committed or to secure a longer jail term.
Some of the most common charges that are added to a squatting are :
- Housebreaking- breaking into an unoccupied residence for the purpose of squatting. Knowing that you don’t have the owners permission and you intend to occupy the dwelling
- Unlawful reentry- if the owner has recovered full possession of the property and you return to the property without permission you can be guilty of unlawful reentry
- Burglary- you entered the dwelling with the intent to steal, assault, or commit another felony. You Do Not have to break into the property to be guilty of burglary only have intent.
- Trespassing- is going on another’s property without permission with the intent to harass, annoy or commit a crime. It also is trespassing when you have been asked to leave a property but refuse.
All of these examples of other crimes are much more serious than just a squatting charge.
Some are considered felonies and can carry long prison sentences.
That’s why hiring a knowledgeable defense attorney is important.
What The Defenders Can Do For You:
- Investigate your case to determine all facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged crime
- Determine whether there was police error or misconduct, or you are being falsely accused
- Go over the strengths and weaknesses of your case with you to give you an idea of how your case will stand up in court
- Inform you of all the legal options available to you
- Offer guidance, support and sound legal advice
Prosecutors have a vast amount of resources available to them to find the necessary evidence to convict you.
The Defenders are well versed in the prosecution’s tactics and can help you counter them aggressively.
We have a number of creative options available to us that can convince the court to dismiss or reduce the charges against you, and we will use every resource we have to vigorously fight for your rights.