LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — While a housing crisis is underway in Southern Nevada, some landlords are dealing with squatters.
The I-Team met a woman at an apartment near Karen and Paradise who says she has lived there for years, and a new company took over, which was trying to evict her.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to pay rent with the new company. They just gave us notices,” she tells the I-Team.
The woman also showed the I-Team the living conditions at the apartment.
“This is the hole that’s been there about, probably six to eight months,” she adds.
The I-Team called the Pala Group which manages the property.
Owner, Jerrid Richards says the woman is a squatter that the company has been trying to remove so that the apartment can be renovated.
“They stayed there, ran cords to run power to the laundry room and just lived there for free for a few years,” said Richards.
He owns and manages multiple properties throughout the Las Vegas Valley and says squatters are a frequent problem.
“They kind of watch it for a while. They notice that there’s no activity there,
then they just come in here and they hide out for a certain amount of time until they get removed,” Richard tells the I-Team.
He says that getting the squatters out, used to be an easier process.
“If you found somebody in the unit you’d call the police. They’d get ’em out,” Richards adds.
However, now he says some squatters are presenting fake leases with their names on them.
“So what happens a lot of times, people will go in and if the police go in and this person presents a lease, you have to go through the full eviction process,” Richards said. “Some of these squatters can get two, three months out of a property.”
“Unfortunately, people have learned how to get around the system and learned what they need to do in order to maintain a residence albeit illegal, they’ve figured it out,” says Suzy Vasquez the executive director of the Nevada State Apartment Association.
Richards took the I-Team inside another property near McCarran Airport which he says had been taken over by squatters.
“They probably just passed drugs back and forth through here,” he says.
Richards team is now cleaning it up.
“The toilets are destroyed, the countertops, they smoke and they put their cigarettes out on them and they burn the carpet. They defecate on the floors,” he adds.
Richards also tells the I-Team that once the property was re-secured, doors bolted, windows boarded up, squatters started coming through the roof.
“It’s extremely frustrating and it makes our job very hard,” he says.
Richards also adds that a family with children lives next door to the property, another reason what unfolded at the apartment was a problem.
“When they cleaned this out, tons of needles, lots of drug paraphernalia,” he adds.
Richards estimates damages to one unit alone are $15,000.
“There’s nothing salvageable about it,” he says.
In some instances, tenants may not know they are technically squatters.
Some scammers rent out properties that are not theirs, by using fake leases.