Nothing is worse than having a squatter on your property. Squatters live on a property without permission from owners. They might take advantage of abandoned properties and make them their own, or even be previous renters. Squatters pose an issue for landlords, who are legally responsible for maintaining and protecting their properties. As a property owner, it’s crucial to understand your landlord’s rights and squatters’ rights so you can stay protected and know what to do if a squatter has taken shelter in one of your residences. Here are some key legal points when dealing with squatters.
Definition of Squatters
Most people think of squatters as people who illegally occupy abandoned properties. While this is one type of squatter, the definition is actually broader than that. A squatter is anyone living on a property without the legal right to do so. This can also include individuals who initially had permission to be on the property but have overstayed their welcome or those who refuse to leave after their lease has ended. These are known as “holdover” squatters, and might be who you’re dealing with as a land or property owner.
Essentially, anyone who is living on a property without the landlord’s consent or authorization can be considered a squatter. It’s important to understand the legal definition, as it varies state by state. For instance, in Nevada, a squatter is someone living in another person’s empty dwelling or home without the permission of the owner or his/her representative. It’s considered a misdemeanor, which is good news for landlords in the state. It means you have landlord’s rights when dealing with squatters and can seek legal and civil action.
Squatting vs. Trespassing
There is a common misconception that squatters and trespassers are the same, but they’re not. While both may be occupying your property without permission, there are some key differences to note.
Squatting tends to occur when someone occupies an abandoned or unused property and makes it their own. In contrast, trespassing typically happens when someone illegally enters a property without permission or refuses to leave after being asked by the owner or authorized person. The key distinction is whether or not the squatter is looking to make your property their own to live in, or if they’re simply passing through or causing harm.
In addition, trespassing can be a misdemeanor or felony, while squatting is typically considered a civil matter in some states. Fortunately in Nevada, squatting is considered a misdemeanor, meaning you can get police involved and can pursue legal action as a landlord.
Understanding Squatters’ Rights
Squatters’ rights are laws that protect individuals who have been residing on a property for an extended period of time without permission from the owner. These rights are intended to prevent people from being unfairly evicted and becoming homeless. However, in Nevada, squatters’ rights only apply to individuals who have been living on a property for five years or more.
This is known as adverse possession, and it requires the squatter to openly occupy the property, pay property taxes, and make improvements to the property during that time. Essentially, they must prove that they have been acting as a rightful owner of the property. As a landlord, you can protect yourself from potential adverse possession claims by ensuring your properties are regularly checked and maintained, making sure all utilities are in your name, and promptly dealing with any trespassers or squatters on your property.
In addition, it’s important to never give someone a rental agreement with your name, address, or contact information on it, as this could be used as evidence of your consent for them to live on your property. Even if it’s only a short-term arrangement, consider getting legal advice before allowing someone to stay on your property.
Dealing With Squatters
If you do discover squatters on your property, it’s important to handle the situation carefully and legally. The first step is to call local law enforcement and report the trespassers. Depending on the circumstances, they may be able to remove the squatters immediately or require you to go through a formal eviction process.
Different states will have different processes for dealing with squatters. For landlords in Nevada, you’ll want to follow several steps, including:
- ol]:!pt-0 [&>ol]:!pb-0 [&>ul]:!pt-0 [&>ul]:!pb-0″>Notify the police: Whether you are aware of the squatters living in your property or they show up on their own, it’s important to call the police. They will need to file a report and hopefully remove the illegal occupants.
- ol]:!pt-0 [&>ol]:!pb-0 [&>ul]:!pt-0 [&>ul]:!pb-0″>Serve a Notice of Retaking Possession: In Nevada, you’ll need to serve a Notice of Retaking Possession to the squatters 24 hours after their arrest.
- ol]:!pt-0 [&>ol]:!pb-0 [&>ul]:!pt-0 [&>ul]:!pb-0″>Post a 4-day notice: If not arrested, this is an official document that must be posted in a visible place on the property, notifying the squatters that they have four days to vacate before facing legal action.
- ol]:!pt-0 [&>ol]:!pb-0 [&>ul]:!pt-0 [&>ul]:!pb-0″>Change your locks, but not before filing a Changing of Locks and Submission of Posted Notice.
Get Legal Help in Nevada Today for Squatters
Furthermore, it may be helpful to consult with a lawyer experienced in landlord-tenant law to guide you through the eviction process and protect your rights as a landlord. At Beckstrom and Beckstrom, we’re here to offer top-tier real estate law, estate planning, personal injury, and business law services in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the surrounding areas. Contact us now to schedule a consultation and let us help you navigate through dealing with squatters on your property!