Squatting occurs when someone lives in a building or on a piece of land without the owner's permission. In the State of Nevada, a squatter may gain legal property rights as long as they meet the requirements through a process known as adverse possession claim.
In this article, we will address some of the most commonly asked questions regarding squatters in Nevada.
Is Squatting Similar to Trespassing?
Not necessarily. In the eyes of the law, trespassing is a felony while squatting is typically a civil matter. That said, squatting can become a criminal offense if the actual owner wishes to remove them from their property.
Are Holdover Tenants Squatters?
Not at all!
Holdover tenants are tenants that continue to stay in the rental property even after their lease has ended. They are unlike squatters and the law treats them accordingly.
If a tenant refuses to leave after their lease term ends, you have two options:
- You can continue accepting rent without having to worry about the law.
- You can file for a lawful detainer lawsuit and have them evicted through the courts.
What are Squatters' Rights?
Squatters can occupy a property legally through an Adverse Possession claim. If a squatter occupies your building or piece of land for a certain period of time and meets all other requirements outlined by the state of Nevada, they may legally own your property without making any payment.
As a landlord, it is therefore important that you familiarize yourself with Nevada's Squatters' rights to prevent this from happening.
Squatters' Rights in Nevada
In the state of Nevada, a squatter can claim rights to your property after living there continuously for at least 5 years. The squatter must also be able to show proof that they have been paying the property taxes for the entire duration they have been living there.
The following are 5 requirements a squatter must meet prior to claiming legal ownership of a property they are squatting in:
1. They must have lived in the property for at least 5 years.
It goes without saying that those 5 years must be uninterrupted.
2. The squatter must be the only one possessing the property.
For the adverse possession claim to be successful, the squatter must be the only one occupying the property. Sharing it with strangers, tenants, or other squatters will lead to automatic disqualification.
3. They must make their presence at the property known.
A squatter must not try to hide the fact that they are occupying the property. The owner must be aware.
4. The squatter must physically live there and treat the property like their own.
They must treat the property well. For instance, they may maintain or beautify the property by cleaning it up or planting flowers.
5. The claim must be hostile.
Here, 'hostile' doesn't allude to violence. In legal sense, it may mean any of the following three legal terms:
- Good Faith Mistake: Here, the squatter may have been dependent on an incorrect deed without their knowledge. They are, in other words, making use of the building or land 'in good faith.'
- Awareness of Trespassing: According to this rule, the trespasser must be aware of their illegal actions. They must know that they don't have a legal right to occupy the property.
- Simple Occupation: Here, the term 'hostile' means a mere property occupation. The person trespassing does not have to be aware that the land belongs to somewhere else.
Color of Title
It's difficult to miss 'color of title' when doing research concerning squatters' rights. Color of title basically means that there is some irregularity in the property ownership. The person occupying it lacks at least one valid document or registration.
Some states do favor squatters who have color of title by shortening the required continuous possession period. This is, however, not the case in Nevada.
Getting Rid of Squatters
Recently, Nevada has enacted laws that make the process of removing squatters from their properties easier.
One of these laws is that a landlord who is disabled, imprisoned, legally incompetent, or is a minor, has 2 additional years after coming of age (released from prison or regains competency) to regain the property's control.
Another law (NRS § 205.0817) was recently passed that allows police to charge squatters with a gross offence charge. Prior to this, squatting was treated as a civil matter, and police couldn't do much. That said, as the landowner, you still have to go through the legal process for the police to make the arrest.
So, if you come to the realization that a squatter is living on your property, the following are a few things you can do:
- Notify the police of their presence.
- 24 hours after the arrest, serve the squatter with a Notice of Retaking Possession.
- If the police don't make the arrest, serve the squatter with a 4-day Notice to Surrender.
- File a Changing of Locks & Submission of Posted Notice.
Preventing Squatters from Occupying your Property in the Future
Here's how to prevent future squatters from occupying your property:
- If you have a vacant property, have it secured and monitor it regularly.
- Decommission all utilities to make sure that the property is as unappealing to potential squatters as possible.
- Fit the windows with steel and anti-tamper fixings to strengthen their defense level.
- Leave 'signs' at the property indicating that the property is, in fact, occupied.
- Hire an experienced property management company to rent out your house.
We Can Help!
Evolve Nevada has been serving the residents of Nevada for more than twenty years now. We proudly serve the areas of Reno, Sparks, Fernley, North Valleys, South Valleys, Truckee Meadows, and Carson City.
If you have a property in any of these areas, get in touch with us. Out team will be happy to help you protect it, as well as help you fill it up with a quality tenant.