Tags: las vegas | squatters

Las Vegas Squatters Seemingly on the Rise, Causing Crime, Complaints

Image: Las Vegas Squatters Seemingly on the Rise, Causing Crime, Complaints
In this April 13, 2015 file photo, a sign advertises homes for sale in Las Vegas. Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates on Thursday, May 14, 2015. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

By    |   Monday, 16 May 2016 08:58 AM

Las Vegas squatters have moved into empty homes in record numbers, prompting complaints to rise 43 percent in 2015 from the previous year.

According to The New York Times, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department received more than 4,000 squatter complaints in 2015, which was double the 2012 amount. Authorities have found drug dealers, counterfeiters and those running "chop shops" in empty residences, as well as some families just looking for shelter.

"Las Vegas' once-devastated housing market has turned the valley into a squatter's paradise," wrote the Las Vegas Sun in April. "The real estate industry has improved the past few years, but with thousands of empty houses still out there — after foreclosures, layoffs and other financial woes pummeled the region — police are getting a rising volume of calls about suspected squatters valley-wide."

The Las Vegas Sun wrote that squatters often break into homes, change the locks and get phony lease papers drawn up. While some keep up the property in good condition, others run illegal activities out of the homes and trash them.

Nevada assemblywoman Victoria Seaman of Las Vegas, herself a real estate agent, cosponsored a new anti-squatter law in the state in hopes to curb the practice. The bill, which went into effect last November, shortened the removal process against squatters, and makes crimes out of housebreaking and unlawful occupancy of a home, noted KNPR radio.

"If you're willing to break into a home and move in, what else are you capable of?" Seaman told the Las Vegas Sun in April.

Vandana Bhalla, a corporate broker and realtor in Las Vegas for 13 years, told KNPR radio that some squatters are not that at all, but were duped by scammers who acted as the home's owner and charged people rent to move into empty houses. She said the new law has led to an increase in such reports.

"I think that because of the bill and publicity that's why we’re seeing an increase," Bhalla told KNPR. "Now, homeowners who live next door to a squatter have a place to go."

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Las Vegas squatters have moved into empty homes in record numbers, prompting complaints to rise 43 percent in 2015 from the previous year.
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2016-58-16
Monday, 16 May 2016 08:58 AM
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