Nevada’s law against squatting / unlawful occupancy (NRS 205.0817)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers

trashed vacant house

The Nevada Crime of Unlawful Occupancy ("Squatting")

Unlawful occupancy is the crime of taking up residence in a vacant dwelling without the permission of the owner. It is commonly referred to as “squatting.”

In Nevada, squatting is prohibited by NRS 205.0817, Nevada's law against unlawful occupancy. It is commonly charged along with housebreaking (NRS 205.0813) or unlawful reentry (NRS 205.082), although forcible or unlawful entry is not required.

The definition of "squatting" under Nevada law

NRS 205.0817 (1) provides:

A person who takes up residence in an uninhabited or vacant dwelling and knows or has reason to believe that such residency is without permission of the owner of the dwelling or an authorized representative of the owner is guilty of unlawful occupancy.

A key element of unlawful occupancy in Nevada is knowledge that you do not have permission to take up residence. You might have had permission to enter. But unless you have permission to live in the dwelling, Nevada law will consider you a squatter.

Penalties for squatting in Nevada

Unlawful occupancy is a Nevada gross misdemeanor. Nevada squatters can be punished by:

  • Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $2,000.1

If, however, it is your fourth or subsequent unlawful occupancy conviction, you are guilty of a Nevada category D felony. Penalties for squatting with priors can include:

  • 1-4 years in Nevada state prison, and
  • maybe a fine of up to $5,000.2

Defenses to Nevada squatting charges

The best defense to Nevada unlawful occupancy depends on the facts of your case. But common defenses to squatting often include:

  • The building wasn't a dwelling.
  • You were only in the dwelling temporarily (i.e., you didn't take up residence).
  • You had (or reasonably thought you had) permission to reside in the dwelling.
  • You were the victim of mistaken identification.
  • The evidence against you was obtained during an illegal search and seizure.

Arrested for squatting in Las Vegas or Reno? Call us for help…

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If you or someone you know has been charged with Nevada squatting, housebreaking, unlawful re-entry, or burglary, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our caring Las Vegas, Nevada criminal defense lawyers know that there are many reasons why people are accused of squatting in Las Vegas or Reno.

To schedule your free consultation fill out the form on this page or call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). One of our lawyers will contact you promptly to discuss your case and the best defense to your Nevada squatting charges.


Legal references:

  1. NRS 193.140.
  2. NRS 193.130.

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