Nevada Squatter’s Rights
December 22, 2023
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Squatters In Nevada
Squatters – those mysterious figures who move into abandoned or vacant properties – have long been a subject of curiosity and confusion. Many people wonder—and fear—how squatters sometimes end up with legal rights to the property they’ve occupied.
Squatters’ rights exist in various forms across the United States, including Nevada. The requirements for claiming these rights vary from state to state, making it essential to understand the specific laws in your area. The squatters rights Nevada provides differ from those provided in other states, as squatting is a criminal offense in the state.
While you can feel comforted that it is notoriously difficult for a squatter to fulfill all the requirements necessary to make a successful legal claim to your property, it never hurts to be prepared. In this article, we’ll cover Nevada’s squatter’s rights and also explain Nevada adverse possession.
- Minimum Occupation Required: 5 consecutive years
- Property Taxes Required? Yes
- Color of Title Required? No
Who Are Squatters?
A squatter is someone who occupies a property without legal ownership or permission from the property owner. They often move into vacant, abandoned, or neglected properties. Squatters could squat temporarily (e.g., for a few weeks) or for years at a time.
While the term “squatter” probably summons a certain image in your mind, it’s important to note that not all squatters have nefarious intentions. A squatter could be someone who thought they legally owned a property that has been passed down in their family over many generations, only to find out years later that the title officially belongs to someone else.
Who Isn’t a Squatter?
Not everyone who occupies or enters a property without permission is a squatter. For instance, tenants with expired leases are not squatters. Rather, they are “holdover tenants,” or previous tenants who no longer have the right to live in the property. Likewise, trespassers are also not squatters. Criminal trespassers are people who enter onto your private property but do not live there, while squatters actually occupy and live on the vacant property.
What Is Adverse Possession / Squatter’s Rights?
Squatter’s rights are the general legal principles that allow squatters to gain ownership of a property through a long period of possession, even without the owner’s permission. While squatter’s rights might seem antiquated today, the principles of adverse possession were established to reward the productive use of land and discourage neglect of properties.
There is no federal law governing squatter’s rights, but there are legal precedents for them in each state and laws governing some of the requirements to claim adverse possession.
Nevada Squatters Rights
Nevada is unique in that squatting is a criminal offense in the state. Unlawful occupancy laws allow squatters to be arrested if they have not fulfilled the required continuous possession period to make a valid claim for adverse possession.
To make a successful claim for adverse possession in Nevada, a squatter must meet both of the following criteria:
- Occupy the property for at least five consecutive years.
- Pay property taxes for at least five consecutive years (NRS § 11.070, 110, 150, 180).
Some states also require squatters to have what’s called “color of title.” Color of title refers to nontraditional ownership of a property, typically without one or more of the legal documents required for official ownership of a title. Squatters are not required to have color of title to claim squatter’s rights in Nevada, nor will having it decrease the required minimum occupation. However, color of title may increase a squatter’s chances of convincing the court that their claim to the property is valid.
Note that squatters in Nevada are required to pay property taxes to make an adverse possession claim in Nevada.
Squatters must also meet five general requirements:
- Hostile/Adverse Possession—The squatter must not have a valid lease or rental agreement with the owner.
- Actual Possession—The squatter must have actively lived in the property for a certain length of time.
- Open and Notorious Possession—The squatter’s possession of the property is open and obvious to neighbors or anyone else. They aren’t living there “in secret” or trying to hide their presence.
- Exclusive Possession—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else. They prevent others from living there like an owner would.
- Continuous Possession—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession of the property for 5 consecutive years
How Does a Squatter Claim Nevada Adverse Possession?
If a squatter has fulfilled both the requirements for squatters rights in Nevada and the general squatter’s rights principles above, they can file a Nevada adverse possession claim or bring an action to “quiet title.” Quiet title is the legal action to claim the right of possession and gain legal property rights to a particular property.
Note, however, that just because a squatter files a claim, this does not mean they will be successful at claiming squatters rights in Nevada. There are many obstacles to winning an adverse possession case—for instance, the squatter would need to:
- Gather ample evidence for their claim (e.g., mail addressed to the property in their name, property tax receipts, evidence that they’ve “beautified” the property, etc.)
- File a quiet title complaint with the court
- Attend a hearing with the property owner in front of a judge, where they’ll present their case for adverse possession
- Successfully convince a judge that they have fulfilled all the state requirements for adverse possession
- Receive a judgment for adverse possession to perfect the title
As you can see, a squatter has an enormous burden of proof when claiming ownership of your property. It is a highly complex process that often requires the squatter to hire an attorney, closely follow Nevada squatting laws, and to have lived on the land of the property owner for many years. In all likelihood, a squatter situation you’re involved in won’t escalate to a successful action to quiet title.
How to Remove a Squatter in Nevada
A new Nevada law makes it easier for landowners to regain possession of their properties from squatters. These laws allow police to arrest and remove squatters and charge them with a gross misdemeanor under Unlawful Occupancy (NRS § 205.0817, 40.412).
Following the arrest, landowners must go through a separate process to legally reclaim their property according to Nevada squatting laws.
- The landowner must file a Notice of Retaking Possession within 24 hours following the squatter’s arrest. This notice allows landowners to protect the property against squatter re-entry. If they re-enter the property without permission from the court, they can be charged with up to a year in jail.
- The notice must stay posted for at least 21 days. During this time, the squatter can take legal action if they deem it necessary. They can file a Verified Complaint for Re-entry and attend a court trial to plead their case.
- If the squatter does not take legal action following the posting of the notice, they must vacate the property within four days.
- After 21 days have passed without a court order stating otherwise, the landowner can repossess the property.
- After the squatter leaves, any personal property they’ve left behind must be stored for at least 14 days. If it has not been reclaimed during that time, the landowner can then dispose of the property as they see fit.
How to Prevent Squatters from Living in Your Vacant Nevada Property
Here are a few practical tips to prevent squatters from moving into your vacant property and attempting to make an adverse possession claim:
- Regularly inspect your property.
- Make your property appear inhabited during vacancy periods.
- Install adequate lighting and security systems to deter unauthorized entry.
- Secure all doors, windows, and access points with sturdy locks and barriers.
- Post “No Trespassing” signs on the property.
- Encourage neighbors to report any suspicious activity.
- Consider hiring a property management company to oversee and maintain the property.
- If feasible, keep the property in use, even if temporarily, to discourage squatting.
- Develop a good relationship with local law enforcement and notify them of the property’s vacancy to increase patrols and response to trespassing.
Knowledge is indeed power when it comes to understanding the squatting laws in Nevada that regulate property possession and ownership. However, it’s worth noting that adverse possession claim laws are unlikely to come into play in most cases. Property neglect to the extent that a squatter could go unnoticed for the required period is rare, emphasizing the importance of vigilance and preventative measures in protecting property rights.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.