After the collapse of the housing market, Nevada saw a significant increase in the number of people “squatting” or staying in homes they didn’t own or have permission to stay. Based on a recent report, police estimate that at least 5,000 Las Vegas valley homes are being occupied by squatters.
Removing squatters has proven a difficult process for Nevada authorities. In an effort to facilitate the prosecution of “squatters” rights cases, Nevada has begun passing a series of bills to address the issue.
On October 1, 2015, the “Squatter Issue” bill became effective in Nevada, which tackles the “squatting” issue through the creation of three new crimes:
- A housebreaking offense for anyone who: “who forcibly enters an uninhabited or vacant dwelling”, “knows or has reason to believe that such entry is without permission of the owner”, and “has the intent to take up residence or provide a residency to another therein.”
- An unlawful occupancy offense for anyone who takes up residence without permission in a house. Unlawful occupants do not commit the forcible entry required for housebreaking.
- An unlawful reentry offense for anyone who has been evicted or foreclosed upon and returns to the property without court authorization or the owner’s permission.
The first offense of these three charges is classified as a gross misdemeanor, which can result in a maximum fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to 364 days in jail. Subsequent offenses are considered Class D felonies and punishable by fines of up to $5,000 and/or four years in jail.
Nevada has further simplified the process for removing unlawful occupants. Authorized persons can now fill out a form online and submit the form to the Police. A detective is then assigned to the case. Within days, the Police may remove the trespassers from the property. The authorized person can then re-key and secure the property. If the trespassers enter the property again without authorization, the trespassers are then arrested.
Authorized persons may also dispose of the trespasser’s personal property if not claimed within fourteen days.
The new system will facilitate the state of Nevada in raising and prosecuting “squatters.” Expect Nevada to pass additional legislation to simplify and further address “squatters rights” issues.
Everyone convicted of a crime has rights under the law, but only the best attorneys know how to demand them for their clients. Contact Ken McKenna, a top criminal lawyer in Nevada, for the best representation possible. For further information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 775.329.6373 or visit www.KenMcKenna.com.