Introduction to short-term rental programs (such as Airbnb) in Nevada

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to form an attorney-client relationship, and it should be used for informational purposes only, and it should not be construed, and is not intended to serve, as legal advice. The facts and circumstances of your life may affect how and whether to make particular decisions while seeking legal relief and/or remedies. It is very likely that seeking legal advice from a licensed attorney is your best option.

 

I want to clear the air on short-term rental programs (such as Airbnb) in Nevada. While Clark County imposes heavy restrictions, Henderson allows short-term rentals of your property for 7 days or more. While Clark County’s website, last I checked, bluntly states that short-term rentals are illegal in Clark County, the actual analysis is far more nuanced than that. For example, is your property actually in “Clark County?” The Clark County ordinance only applies to unincorporated Clark County, not to other municipalities that are technically within the outer borders of Clark County. This was confusing for me, before learning that the difference matters here, because I grew up in the Clark County School District, in Henderson schools.

But if you’re trying to decide whether to list your property on a site such as Airbnb, I would determine where your property sits (Las Vegas, Henderson, unincorporated Clark County, etc.) before listing your property. Then, you need to be sure you’re complying with the appropriate law. At last reading, a rental of 7 days or more is okay in Henderson, but is not allowed in unincorporated Clark County.

Please stay tuned for more on this topic. I will be expanding on this analysis as time allows. If you mention this post, you can call me for a free consult (a $50 value) about your property and whether you have any legal basis for listing your property on Airbnb or other similar site(s).

 

In liberty,

Matthew B. Beckstead, Esq.**

** Licensed in Nevada

© All Rights Reserved. License granted to the general public to reproduce and distribute to other members of the general public for informational purposes, subject to condition that this publication not be altered in any way, including author name and contact information.

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Got Squatters Acting Like Wise Guys? You Have Legal Options for Dealing with Them

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to form an attorney-client relationship, and it should be used for informational purposes only, and it should not be construed, and is not intended to serve, as legal advice. The facts and circumstances of your life may affect how and whether to make particular decisions while seeking legal relief and/or remedies. It is very likely that seeking legal advice from a licensed attorney is your best option.

 

Got Squatters Acting Like Wise Guys? You Have Legal Options for Dealing with Them

 

If you have  a violent or threatening squatter on your property (even if you are merely an authorized tenant and not the property owner) (for an introduction on squatters, and for more on who qualifies as a squatter, see last month’s post, available at https://www.matthewbecksteadlaw.com/6-steps-to-removing-your-squatters-in-nevada/), you may file an eviction action with your local justice court, such as the Las Vegas Justice Court, as long as you follow certain steps. Ideally, the squatter will scram when he or she understands that you are pursuing legal action. Realistically, this won’t always be the case. Although these steps might seem frustrating, they are probably designed to efficiently address the problem, rather than authorizing an immediate formal eviction action filed in court.

 

Before diving in, it is important to understand who qualifies as a violent or threatening squatter. For purposes of this article, a squatter is “violent or threatening” where he or she “[u]nlawfully holds and keeps the possession of any real property by force or threats of violence,” NRS 40.240(1)(a). If this is the case for you, document (by legal means only) the use of force and/or threats of violence and prepare a notice to surrender, which must be served upon each individual squatter.  A person is a violent and/or threatening squatter even if he or she gained possession of the house without violence or threat and later becomes violent or threatening; there is no requirement that the squatter be violent the entire time in order for you to have legal authority to prepare and serve a notice to surrender.

 

The notice to surrender can be served by “[t]he owner of the real property, an authorized representative of the owner[,] or the occupant who is authorized by the owner to be in possession of the real property,” NRS 40.240(2). As discussed below, you may believe, as I do, that using a professional process server is the best way to serve documents. Notice, too, that the statute does not limit “force” to force against a person – it appears to include any and all force used to further the purpose of holding and keeping the residence. For example, if a squatter kicks the dog to show you she means business and will not leave the property quietly, that appears to qualify as the kind of force the law forbids, and you can begin the process of evicting the violent or threatening squatter. It’s worth repeating – you may not need to follow each of these steps; maybe your violent or threatening squatter(s) will get the message and leave sooner than later.

 

Step 1: Prepare the Notice to Surrender

The notice to surrender that you will serve on your violent and/or threatening squatter must comply with the law (if there is more than one violent and/or threatening squatter, you must prepare a notice of surrender for each individual, otherwise the court lacks jurisdiction to evict that person). To do so, the notice to surrender must do the following:

  1. Inform the squatter* who used force and/or threats of violence that he or she is guilty of forcible detainer (If you don’t know their names, I suggest using “Current Occupant” along with Jane and John Does and physical descriptions. For example, Current Occupant, Jane Doe #1 with the red hair and the dragon tattoo who appears to weigh 90 lbs.). NRS 40.240(2)(a);
  2. Give the squatter 4 judicial days to surrender your residence (It’s useful to think of judicial days as business days: no weekends or court holidays. For court holidays, check the Las Vegas Justice Court’s website – they’re pretty good about keeping their holiday information updated. General rule of thumb? If the post office is closed, the court is probably closed. Don’t forget Nevada Day, though! Or Family Day!). NRS 40.240(2)(b);
  3. Identify your local courthouse, which is based on where the property is, not necessarily where you live (for example, the Carson City Justice Court or the Henderson Township Justice Court). NRS 40.414(3)(a);
  4. Advise the squatter:

 

  1. Of his or her right to contest the matter by filing, before the court’s close of business on the fourth judicial day following service of the notice of surrender, an affidavit with the court that has jurisdiction over the matter stating the reasons why the unlawful or unauthorized occupant is not guilty of a forcible entry or forcible detainer.

 

  1. That if the court determines that the unlawful or unauthorized occupant is guilty of a forcible entry or forcible detainer, the court may issue a summary order for removal of the unlawful or unauthorized occupant, or an order providing for the nonadmittance of the unlawful or unauthorized occupant, directing the sheriff or constable of the county to remove the unlawful or unauthorized occupant within 24 hours after the sheriff’s or constable’s receipt of the order from the court.

 

  1. That, except as otherwise provided in in this paragraph, the owner of the real property, an authorized representative of the owner, or the occupant who is authorized by the owner of the real property to be in possession of the real property, shall provide safe storage of any personal property of the unlawful or unauthorized occupant which remains on the property. The owner, an authorized representative of the owner, or the occupant may dispose of any personal property of the unlawful or unauthorized occupant remaining on the real property after 14 calendar days from the execution of an order for removal of the unlawful or unauthorized occupant or the compliance of the unlawful or unauthorized occupant with the notice to surrender, whichever comes first. The unlawful or unauthorized occupant must pay the owner, authorized representative of the owner, or occupant for the reasonable and actual costs of inventory, moving, and storage of the personal property before the personal property will be released to the unlawful or unauthorized occupant.

 

Step 2: Serve the Notice to Surrender

Ok, now that you have your notice to surrender for each and every squatter, you must serve each and every squatter. Your best bet for serving a notice to surrender is to contact an authorized process server in your area. It makes life simpler, and these folks are more experienced than the average person when it comes to serving notices. If you are going to use self-help and serve it yourself, you do so at your own risk, but the law appears to allow this. See NRS 40.240(2). If you must insist, think it through and be smart and safe about it. It seems worth it, though, to pay a few dozen bucks to the local sheriff’s office to have them do it for you – why not let them handle it?

If you choose to proceed on your own, without the aid of a professional process server, Nevada law has specific requirements for serving a notice to surrender. See NRS 40.280(2). You can “deliver” a copy to your squatter(s) in person, “in the presence of a witness,” NRS 40.280(2)(a), but this is not your best option, because people are crazy.

If the violent and/or threatening squatter is “absent from the real property,” you still have the option and ability to serve the notice to surrender. To do so, you may leave a copy with another adult squatter who is living in your residence and, in addition to leaving a copy with an adult at the residence, you must mail a copy (I suggest doing this via certified mail (using certified mail with tracking at the United States Postal Service, for example)) to the address for your residence and address the notice to “Current Occupant.” See NRS 40.280(2)(b). I can hear you now: “But what if I have one of those locking, community mailboxes and my squatters don’t have access to the mail there?” Doesn’t matter. The law has specific requirements for serving a notice to surrender. So, if you can leave it with the nice squatter, the gray-bearded fellow who smiles at you as you walk by, this is one option at your disposal (just remember to mail a copy, too). Remember, discretion is the better part of valor! Be safe. Be smart. Use discretion. I truly feel that having a professional process server or your local sheriff serve the notice to surrender is the best option, for, perhaps, a dozen reasons, which I will not utter here (Yes, this is a Gandalf the Grey reference, in case you were wondering).

If there is nobody in sight when you arrive, you may post a copy of the notice to surrender on the door or other visible place, but you must also mail a copy (I suggest doing this via certified mail (using certified mail with tracking at the United States Postal Service, for example)) to the residence’s address and address the notice to “Current Occupant.” See NRS 40.280(2)(c).

Later on, if you must go to court in an eviction action pursuant to NRS 40.414, you are going to have to file proof that you served a notice to surrender. See NRS 40.280(4). Remember when I suggested that you to send your notice to surrender via certified mail? Because you kept your tracking number handy and you have your delivery confirmation (maybe you downloaded an authorized copy of the delivery confirmation from the mail carrier’s website and printed it), you can more easily demonstrate for the court that you’ve done well for yourself and followed the legal requirements for serving your notice to surrender. If you used your local sheriff or a private, licensed process server, make sure you keep a copy of their affidavit of service so you can show the court that you served the notice to surrender. See NRS 40.280(4). Attach any documents you have showing you served the notice to surrender to a certificate of service or affidavit, to be filed with the court.

Step 3: Proceed According to the Response from the Squatter(s)

How your violent and/or threatening squatter(s) proceed, after you’ve served the notice to surrender, determines what legal relief you may seek. Here is a discussion of the possible scenarios:

  1. If an individual squatter leaves by 5:00 p.m. on the fourth judicial day, never to come back and having ridden off into the sunset for good, you cannot file for eviction with the court as to that squatter. See NRS 40.414(4)(a). The key word in the statute is “surrender”; a squatter must “surrender the real property” to you, your agent, or authorized occupant. Once each and every squatter has “surrendered” the property, you may safely take possession of the property and secure it, including changing the locks. Whether a particular person has “surrendered” the real property can be a nuanced, detailed legal question that depends on the circumstances of each case. If you doubt that you can show the judge that a particular, individual squatter “surrendered” the real property, consult with an attorney before proceeding.
  2. If an individual squatter formally objects to the eviction proceedings, pursuant to NRS 40.414(4)(c), by 5:00 p.m. on the fourth judicial day, your only option is to file an eviction complaint pursuant to NRS 40.414(5). See NRS 40.414(4)(c). See also NRS 40.414(6)(b)-(d).
  3. If the individual squatter is still there, at the property, but he or she has not formally objected pursuant to NRS 40.414(4)(c), ask the court to find that you have presented sufficient evidence in your complaint “to demonstrate that a . . . forcible detainer has been committed” by that squatter. See NRS 40.414(6)(a). If the court makes this finding, it “must issue an order directing the sheriff or constable of the county to remove . . . [the individual squatter] within 24 hours after the sheriff’s or constable’s receipt of the order from the court,” NRS 40.414(6)(a). If the court issues such an order, make sure your local sheriff or constable receives a copy of the order. If you are unsure of how to proceed, you may ask your local court’s staff for guidance on how to ensure that the sheriff or constable receives a copy for service.

Step 4: Handle the Squatter’s Property According to the Law

Nevada law has specific instructions for handling a squatter’s leftover property. Fortunately for you, it also protects you against some civil and/or criminal liability if the court orders your squatters to leave the property, but you must follow the legal requirements set forth in NRS 40.414 (7). See generally NRS 40.414(7). I may cover these requirements at a later time, but it might just be easier for you to consult an attorney on how to proceed from here. This area gets a bit more complex and nuanced. If you’ve made it this far without a lawyer, congratulations – now might be the time to get one.

Handling Damages to Your Property

If you own the property or are the owner’s authorized representative, you may seek treble damages for “three times the amount at which actual damages are assessed,” NRS 40.240(3). In violent and/or threatening squatter cases, “actual damages” means damages to real property and personal property. NRS 40.240(3).

If you wish to pursue your squatters for damages, you should obtain credible evidence and provide it to the court. This may include photographs and witness testimony from a trustworthy person, for example.

No, I do not think trying to sell squatter property to offset any damage to your property is a good idea, and I’m not sure it’s allowed. See NRS 40.414(7).

 

In liberty,

Matthew B. Beckstead, Esq.**

 

* For purposes of this blog post, the term “squatter” means a person who forcibly detains real property pursuant to NRS 40.240(1)(a).

** Licensed in Nevada

 

© All Rights Reserved. License granted to the general public to reproduce and distribute to other members of the general public for informational purposes, subject to condition that this publication not be altered in any way, including author name and contact information.

 

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6 Steps to Removing Your Squatters in Nevada

6 Steps to Removing Your Squatters

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to form an attorney-client relationship, and it should be used for informational purposes only, and it should not be construed, and is not intended to serve, as legal advice. The facts and circumstances of your life may affect how and whether to make particular decisions while seeking legal relief and/or remedies. It is very likely that seeking legal advice from a licensed attorney is your best option.

Step 1 – Have Your Squatters Arrested

Nevada lawmakers have made it a crime to be a squatter, which means that police involvement is appropriate when you suspect someone is squatting on your property. This law only applies to a structural building that is intended to be a residence or place for sleeping. The first step in asserting your rights as the property owner is to have the appropriate police department pay your squatters a visit.

Squatting falls into two categories: Housebreaking and Unlawful Occupancy.

Housebreaking happens when a person uses physical force, or changes or alters the locks, to enter “an uninhabited or vacant dwelling” with the knowledge that they do not have permission from you, the property owner, to be there and that person does so with the intent to be a resident or sublet your property to another person. A first offense is a gross misdemeanor. A second and any additional offense is a felony.

Unlawful occupancy happens when someone begins living in your “uninhabited or vacant dwelling” without your permission and the person knows that he or she does not have your permission to live in the residence. A first offense is a gross misdemeanor. A third and any subsequent offense is a felony.

If you suspect you have squatters who are guilty of housebreaking and/or unlawful occupancy, contact the police and provide them with as much information and evidence as you can. Take pictures and/or video (without invading privacy or going crazy – if you find yourself filming intimate squatter moments, for example, you have gone too far and are probably criminally and/or civilly liable for what you’ve done. NO INVASIONS OF PRIVACY!). Keep a notebook of witness names, dates, times, incidents, etc. The more detailed, the better.

Step 2 – Retake Possession of Your Property and/or Change the Locks

After the authorities have handled your squatters and any minor children who may be residing in your house, and everyone is gone, you are then and only then legally authorized to (1) retake possession and (2) change the locks. Doing both is advisable, but at the very least you should change the locks and totally secure the premises so that your squatters or other, new squatters do not get any bright ideas. At the same time that you retake possession and/or change the locks to house, you must post a written notice on the house that complies with Nevada law.

Step 3 – Post the required written notice on your house on the same day you retake possession of your property and/or change the locks, and leave it there for at least 21 calendar days.

Please feel free to download and use any of the following documents:

You must post a written notice on your house when you retake possession and/or change the locks. The mandatory written notice must meet the legal requirements set forth by Nevada law. It must (1) identify the address of your property; (2) identify the court that has jurisdiction over any matter relating to your property; (3) give the date on which you retook possession of your property and/or changed the locks; and (4) give the following advisories to the squatter(s):

  1. One or more locks on the dwelling have been changed as the result of an arrest for housebreaking or unlawful occupancy.
  2. The unlawful or unauthorized occupant has the right to contest the matter by filing a verified complaint for reentry with the court within 21 calendar days after the date you retook possession and/or changed the locks. The squatters must serve the complaint at the address you give to the court when you file the written notice (see below).
  3. Reentry of the property without a court order is a criminal offense, punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
  4. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 40.412(2)(d)(4), the owner of the dwelling shall provide safe storage of any personal property which remains on the property. The owner may dispose of any personal property which remains on the property after 21 calendar days from the date indicated in paragraph (c) unless within that time the owner receives an affidavit or notice of hearing pursuant to NRS 40.414. The unlawful or unauthorized occupant may recover his or her personal property by filing an affidavit with the court pursuant to NRS 40.414 within 21 calendar days after the date indicated in paragraph (c). The owner is entitled to payment of the reasonable and actual costs of inventory, moving and storage before releasing the personal property to the occupant.

Step 4 – If you changed the locks on your property, you must file a copy of the notice you posted with your local county justice court the following business day, and the notice must be accompanied by a statement that includes an address for service of any documents upon you or your authorized representative.

If you feel that changing the locks is necessary, you may have to pay a small filing fee (~$2.50) to file a Statement of Possession with your local justice court. Fortunately, this Statement of Possession does not require a filing fee of hundreds of dollars, so the only cost to you as the owner is your time and a few dollars.

Step 5 – Storing your squatters’ property

You must provide safe storage of any personal property that the squatters left on your property. After 21 calendar days from the date you gave in the notice you posted on your property, however, you may dispose of any personal property which remains on the property. If the squatters have filed an affidavit or notice of hearing pursuant to NRS 40.414, however, DO NOT dispose of the personal property that your squatter(s) left behind, just yet.

In any case, you are entitled to payment of the reasonable and actual costs of inventory, moving and storage before releasing the personal property to the occupant. In some cases, you may be able to keep or sell the personal property to recoup your costs, but you should consult an attorney before doing so. See NRS 40.414(7)(b).

Step 6 – Check next month’s blog post, which will cover violent or threatening squatters

Please take note that next month’s blog post will cover what to do when your squatters are violent and/or threatening toward you and the police have not or will not arrest and remove your squatters. There is separate legal action you can take to obtain a court order. You may be entitled to damages to your house and personal property for three times the amount of damage the squatters caused. More on this next time, so please stay tuned!

 

In liberty,

Matthew B. Beckstead, Esq.*

*Licensed in Nevada

 

© All Rights Reserved. License granted to the general public to reproduce and distribute to other members of the general public for informational purposes, subject to condition that this publication not be altered in any way, including author name and contact information.

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