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Nevada Adverse Possession Laws

It has been known to happen: strange legal moves that leave you befuddled. Like the news of people losing their land to trespassers or squatters. Or maybe you found yourself on the other end of the transaction by setting up shop on some land that's just sitting there going to waste. Either way, it's completely possible that you’ve never heard of the legal doctrine of “adverse possession.”

So how does it all work? Is it an unfair of robbery of land by squatters or a justified grant to a person who will actually put the property to good use? And what are the particulars under Nevada law? Here's a brief introduction to adverse possession laws in Nevada.

Adverse Possession Laws

The legal doctrine known as "adverse possession" allows trespassers who openly inhabit and improve an otherwise abandoned piece of property to gain title to that property after certain conditions are met. For instance, Nevada adverse possession laws require an individual to occupy an otherwise neglected property publicly for at least 5 years with "color of title" and/or payment of property taxes. ("Color or title" generally means he or she has reason to believe they have the right to possess the property).

Adverse Possession in Nevada

The following chart lists the main provisions of Nevada adverse possession laws.

Code Section 11.070, 110, 150, 180
Time Period Required for Occupation 5 yrs. and Color of Title: 5 yrs. and Color of Title/Payment of Taxes: 5 yrs.
Time for Landowner to Challenge/Effect of Landowner's Disability After disability lifted: 2 yrs.
Improvements -
Payment of Taxes Required
Title from Tax Assessor -
There are four general elements to a valid adverse possession claim. You must have:
  • A “hostile” claim: the trespasser must either
    • Make an honest mistake (likes relying on an incorrect deed);
    • Merely occupy the land (with or without knowledge that it is private property); or
    • Be aware of his or her trespassing;
  • Actual possession: the trespasser must be physically present on the land, treating it as his or her own;
  • Open and notorious possession: the act of trespassing cannot be secret; and
  • Exclusive and continuous possession: the trespasser cannot share possession with others, and must be in possession of the land for an uninterrupted period of time.

Related Resources for Nevada Adverse Possession Laws

Real estate law, and especially concepts like adverse possession, can be complicated. You can continue your own research and find more introductory information on this topic in FindLaw’s adverse possession section. If you would like to discuss your real estate case with a lawyer or if you want to know your rights and responsibilities as a landowner or occupier, you can contact an experienced Nevada real estate attorney in your area and schedule a consultation.

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