Nevada Squatters’ Rights & Adverse Possession Laws - 2024

What are Squatters' Rights in Nevada?

Squatting refers to occupying an abandoned or unoccupied property without the owner's permission or consent. Unlike trespassing, which is present on a property without permission for a brief period, squatting involves residing on the property for an extended period of time. 

In Nevada, squatting occurs when an individual lives in an unoccupied home, apartment unit, commercial building, or piece of land for an extended period without having rental rights or ownership. The person is unlawfully present on the property and does not have the legal right to live there.

Squatters may move into foreclosed homes, vacant rental units, or abandoned properties. In some cases, they may change the locks, turn on utilities, or make repairs to make the property inhabitable for long-term occupation. Squatters have no ownership rights or permission from the legal property owner to live on the premises.

The main difference between squatting and trespassing is the duration and nature of the unauthorized stay. Trespassers may temporarily enter or pass through a property without permission. Squatters take up long-term residence without legal rights to the property.

Adverse Possession Laws in Nevada

In Nevada, squatters can make a legal claim for adverse possession after residing on a property for 5 years. 

To successfully claim adverse possession, the squatter must have had open, continuous, hostile, notorious, and exclusive possession of the property for the full 5 year statute of limitations period. This means:


They made no attempt to hide their occupation of the property. 


They lived on the property without any extended gaps or abandonment of the property. Even short vacations or other brief absences could disrupt the continuity.


Their possession was against the rights of the true owner. They did not have permission to live there.


Their occupation of the property was conspicuous and known to others. 


They possessed the entire property themselves. Partial occupation does not qualify.

During the 5 years, the squatter must have been using, occupying, and maintaining the property as an owner would. This could include making improvements to the property, paying property taxes, paying utilities, etc. Simply camping or storing belongings on the land does not necessarily qualify as adverse possession.

The continuous 5 year timeline restarts if the squatter abandons the property for any significant length of time.

Proving Adverse Possession

In order for a squatter to successfully claim adverse possession in Nevada, they must prove to the court that their possession of the property meets certain requirements:

Open and Notorious Possession

The squatter must physically occupy and live on the land in an open and obvious way. They cannot hide their possession. They must use the land as a typical owner would, without permission from the legal owner.

Continuous Possession

The squatter must reside on the land 24/7 for the entire statutory period, which is 5 years in Nevada. That means 1,825 consecutive days of possession without any gaps. Even one or two days absence can ruin the continuity.

Hostile Possession

The squatter must possess the land without permission and against the rights of the legal owner. Their use of the land must be hostile, not friendly.

Exclusive Possession

The squatter cannot share possession with the legal owner or other squatters. They must have exclusive control over the land.

Paying Property Taxes

The squatter must prove they paid real estate taxes on the property during the 5-year statutory period. Receipts will be required as proof.

Making Improvements

The squatter must make productive use of the land and make improvements like buildings, fences, drainage systems, or gardens. This helps demonstrate the intention to possess the land as an owner would.

The squatter bears the burden of providing clear and convincing evidence to the court that they met all the requirements for the statutory period. Witness testimony and documentation will be key. If they cannot provide adequate proof, their adverse possession claim will fail.

Challenging an Adverse Possession Claim

If you believe someone is trying to make an invalid adverse possession claim on your property, there are ways to fight it. Here are some steps to take:

Grounds to Challenge the Claim

There are several arguments you can make to challenge an adverse possession claim:

  • The possession was not hostile or exclusive - you gave permission for them to be there or continued to access parts of the property during their occupation.
  • The possession was not continuous - there were gaps in their occupation where they did not maintain control. 
  • The possession was not open and notorious - they tried to hide that they were occupying the land.
  • They have not occupied the entire parcel of land. Their use must be over the whole property.
  • They have not possessed the land for the full statutory period of 5 years in Nevada.
  • They do not have color of title or have not been paying property taxes on the land.

Hire a Lawyer

It's highly recommended to consult a real estate attorney if you want to fight an adverse possession claim. They can help build the strongest case possible against the claim.

Fight it in Court

If the squatters do not vacate after being served proper notice, you will have to take legal action and go to court to remove them. Your lawyer can file the paperwork and represent you in proving their adverse possession claim is invalid. The court will ultimately decide if they have fulfilled all the requirements to take ownership. With the help of a lawyer, you can refute their claim and eject the squatters.

Removing Squatters

If you discover squatters occupying your property in Nevada, you will need to go through the proper legal process to remove them. Here are the steps:

Post a Notice to Vacate

  • The first step is to post a written notice demanding the squatters leave the premises within 4 calendar days. This notice must identify the property address, demand possession within 4 days, and state that legal action will be taken if they fail to leave. 
  • You can post the notice on the property entrance or hand deliver it to the squatters if possible. Make sure you keep a copy of the notice.

File for Formal Eviction

  • If the squatters do not leave after 4 days, you can file a court order to evict with the justice court in the county where the property is located. There will be a filing fee.
  • The eviction process takes a minimum of 21 days after filing. You will need to prove you are the legal property owner and serve the eviction papers on the squatters.

Obtain Police Assistance

  • Once you receive a court order granting you possession of the property, local law enforcement can assist you in removing the squatters if they still refuse to leave. 
  • Police presence ensures the removal process goes smoothly and safely. The squatters do not have any further rights once an eviction order is issued.
  • Following the proper process ensures you reclaim your property legally. Be sure to secure the property against future squatters.

Squatters vs. Holdover Tenants

In Nevada, there is an important legal distinction between squatters and holdover tenants. Squatters are people who occupy an abandoned property or land without the owner's permission. Holdover tenants, on the other hand, are tenants who continue living in a property after their lease or rental agreement has ended. 

The key difference is that holdover tenants initially had lawful permission to live on the property, whereas squatters never had lawful permission. Holdover tenants may wrongfully remain on the property after their right to occupancy has ended, but they were still initially legal tenants.

To remove holdover tenants in Nevada, the landlord must go through a formal eviction process. The steps are:

1. The landlord must serve the tenant written notice to vacate. The notice gives the holdover tenant a minimum of 7 days to leave the property, up to a maximum of 30 days depending on the reason for eviction.

2. If the holdover tenant does not move out after the notice period, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court. 

3. The court will schedule a hearing where both parties can present evidence and make their case. If the judge rules in the landlord's favor, they will issue a writ of restitution ordering the tenant to vacate.

4. If the holdover tenant still refuses to leave after the writ is issued, the court will have law enforcement remove the tenant and their belongings from the property. 

The formal eviction process for holdover tenants, going through the courts and law enforcement, does not apply to squatters who never had lawful permission to live at the property. To remove squatters, the property owner must obtain a court order through a trespassing lawsuit.

Signs of a Squatter

If you suspect squatters may be occupying your vacant property in Nevada, there are some telltale signs to look out for:

Changes in Utility Usage

One of the main signs of squatters is a spike in utility usage at the property. Check with your utility companies to see if there has been increased electrical, gas, or water usage that can't be explained. Squatters will often illegally tap into existing utilities or open new accounts to provide themselves with electricity, heat, and running water.

Damage or Neglect 

Take a look around the exterior and interior of your property. Squatters often cause damage while forcing entry or make unauthorized "repairs" and changes to the property. You may also notice trash and debris piling up outside. Inside there could be signs of neglect, damage, or vandalism.

Unauthorized Repairs or Improvements

Squatters will sometimes make repairs or improvements to a property to make it more habitable, such as fixing appliances, adding locks, or building structures. Look for any changes or additions to the property that you didn't approve to uncover a potential squatter situation.

Preventing Squatters  

To prevent squatters from occupying your property in Nevada, there are a few important steps you can take:

Secure the Property

  • Install new locks on all doors and windows to prevent unlawful entry. Use high-quality locks that cannot be easily picked or broken.
  • Erect fencing around the perimeter with locked gates. Fencing helps deter squatters and defines clear property boundaries. 
  • Install security systems like cameras, motion sensor lights, and alarms. Having surveillance in place increases the risk of getting caught for potential squatters.
  • Board up or block any areas like basement windows that could be broken into. Eliminate easy access points squatters could use.
  • Keep bushes and overgrown vegetation trimmed back from the house. This removes hiding spots and increases visibility.

Conduct Frequent Checks

  • Have a friend, relative, or hired caretaker do regular drive-bys and walk-arounds. Frequent check-ins help deter squatters. 
  • Look for signs like broken windows, new possessions, cars parked outside, or lights on inside. Catching squatters early is key.
  • Walk the grounds to check for makeshift camps or damage to locks, doors, and windows. Don't allow squatters time to settle in.
  • Request police drive-bys when you are away for long periods. Ask them to check for unlawful occupancy.

Post No Trespassing Signs

  • Place visible "No Trespassing" signs around the property. This makes it clear that any entry is prohibited.
  • Add signs stating that trespassers will be reported to law enforcement. Warn that unlawful occupancy will be prosecuted. 
  • List the address and property owner's contact info. This gives law enforcement who to contact.
  • Post signs in multiple languages if appropriate for the area.

Following these preventative measures can help stop squatters from gaining access and claiming rights to the property. Do not delay in taking action if you suspect squatters are present.

Reporting Squatters in Nevada

If you discover someone squatting on your property in Nevada, you'll need to formally report them before taking any further action. Here's what to do:

Contact the Authorities

  • Call the police non-emergency number and request an officer come inspect the property. Explain that you believe squatters are illegally occupying the premises. The officer can determine if the occupants meet the criteria for squatting and advise you on next steps. 
  • You may also contact your county sheriff's office to report squatters on your property. They can provide information on the eviction process and help remove the squatters if needed.

Gather Evidence

  • Prior to the authorities arriving, document any evidence that people have been living on the property without your permission. Take photos showing belongings, damaged locks, makeshift shelter, trash, etc. 
  • Write down any interactions you've had with the occupants, including verbal demands to leave the premises. Having documentation strengthens the case that they are trespassing.

The Eviction Process

Once the authorities confirm there are squatters occupying your residence or land, you'll need to formally evict them through the court system if they refuse to leave voluntarily. The standard process involves:

  • Serving a notice requiring they vacate the premises within a certain timeframe (usually 3-5 days)
  • Filing a lawsuit in county court requesting a court order to evict if they don't leave 
  • Scheduling a court date where a judge will hear arguments from both parties
  • Receiving a court order directing law enforcement to remove the squatters

Be prepared to wait several weeks for a court date and eviction order. In the meantime, take precautions to prevent damage or liability issues. Consider changing the locks if necessary.

Squatters Rights Once Reported

Once a squatter is reported to police in Nevada, they do not have any rights to legally remain on the private property. Squatters are considered trespassers under the law.

When a property owner reports squatters to law enforcement, the police will typically inform the squatters that they are trespassing and need to vacate the property immediately. If the squatters refuse to leave, they may be arrested for criminal trespass. 

Squatters cannot claim they have a legal right to remain on the property once the owner has reported them to authorities. Their unauthorized occupation has been formally disputed.

If the owner has filed an eviction lawsuit and obtained a court order, police can physically remove squatters who still refuse to leave the premises. Their possessions and belongings can also be removed from the property as abandoned property.

The key is that once reported and notified by police, squatters no longer have any rights to stay on the private property. Remaining without permission is considered trespassing and subjects them to removal and criminal penalties.

Key Takeaways

  • Squatting in Nevada involves occupying an abandoned or unoccupied property without the owner's permission or legal rights, differentiating from trespassing by the duration and nature of stay.
  • Nevada allows squatters to make a legal claim for adverse possession after continuously residing on a property for 5 years, with requirements for the occupation to be open, continuous, hostile, notorious, and exclusive.
  • To successfully claim adverse possession, squatters must demonstrate open and notorious possession, continuous possession for 5 years, hostile possession, exclusive possession, payment of property taxes, and making improvements to the property.
  • Property owners can challenge squatters' adverse possession claims by proving the possession wasn’t hostile, exclusive, continuous, open and notorious, or didn’t last for the required 5-year period.
  • Property owners must post a notice to vacate, file for formal eviction if squatters don’t leave within 4 days, and may need police assistance for removal after obtaining a court order.
  • Nevada differentiates squatters from holdover tenants, with the latter having initially lawful permission to occupy a property, whereas squatters never received such permission.
  • To deter squatters, property owners are advised to secure the property, conduct frequent checks, post "No Trespassing" signs, and consider physical barriers like fencing and security systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I evict a squatter in Nevada?

To evict a squatter in Nevada, you must first serve them with a written notice to vacate, giving them 4 days to leave the property. If they do not comply, file an eviction lawsuit with your local justice court. Once the court grants an eviction order, law enforcement can assist in removing the squatters.

How do I report a squatter in Las Vegas?

To report a squatter in Las Vegas, contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via their non-emergency number. Provide details about the situation and evidence of squatting. The police will investigate and can inform the squatters that they are trespassing.

Is squatting illegal in Nevada?

Yes, squatting is illegal in Nevada. Squatters are considered trespassers if they occupy a property without the owner's permission. Property owners can take legal action to evict squatters and may involve law enforcement to remove them.

What is considered a squatter in Nevada?

In Nevada, a squatter is someone who occupies an abandoned or unoccupied property without the legal owner’s permission. This includes living in a home, apartment, or on land that they do not own or rent, often in properties that appear vacant or neglected.

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