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 the 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 was not a dwelling.
- You were only in the dwelling temporarily (i.e., you did not 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…
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.
For a discussion of the laws in California, please see our page on Penal Code 647e PC - Squatting laws in California.
- NRS 193.140.
- NRS 193.130.