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Housebreaking Law (New Law Effective 10/1/2015)

Information

The following Housebreaking law takes effect on October 1, 2015. 

What is “housebreaking”?

A person who breaks into a house without permission for the purpose of taking up residency is guilty of housebreaking.   This is a crime and you can go to jail.  The police can take you to jail and the landlord can lock you out. 

What is “unlawful entry”? 

A person who enters an open or unsecured house without permission for the purpose of taking up residency is guilty of unlawful entry.   This is a crime and you can go to jail.  The police can take you to jail and the landlord can lock you out. 

What happens if I am locked out without notice?

The landlord may lock you out if housebreaking or unlawful entry has been alleged and no one remains in your dwelling.  The landlord must post a notice on your dwelling that allows you 21 days to contest the lockout by filing a complaint for unlawful lockout in the justice court of the township where you live.  You must also deliver a copy of this complaint to the landlord or manager. 

DO NOT TRY TO RE-ENTER THE DWELLING!  This is a criminal offense punishable by up to 4 years in jail. 

I have been locked out for housebreaking, but I cannot find a notice.  Can I still file a complaint for unlawful lockout?

Yes, the landlord must post a notice on your dwelling AND file a copy of the notice with the court.  You should be able to get a copy by going to your local justice court.  The notice may be in the name of “Current Occupant” so let the clerk know your address.

I just received a 4 Day Forcible Entry or Forcible Detainer Notice.  What should I do?

The 4 Day Forcible Entry (FE) or Forcible Detainer (FD) Notice is the first step in the eviction process.  If the landlord believes you have broken into a dwelling (FE) or just entered and refuse to leave (FD), the landlord can issue the 4 Day FE or FD Notice.  The Notice should be served to you, but can be posted on the property and mailed to you and can contain the name “Current Occupant” if the landlord does not know who you are.  You can either vacate the premises or wait for the next eviction notice.  You may also try to contact the landlord and explain your situation and resolve the matter. 

If the landlord wants to proceed with the eviction, the landlord must serve a 4 Day Housebreaking Notice or 5 Day Unlawful Detainer Notice.  See “I received a 4 Day Housebreaking Notice” below.

What happens to my personal property left behind?

The landlord can dispose of your property within 21 days of when the landlord locked you out.  If you do not know when the landlord locked you out, then you should consider giving up the right to contest the lock out if you really need your property.  The complaint to challenge the lock out may result in waiting longer than the time you have to retrieve your property and your property may be gone. 

If you want to challenge the landlord's right to hold your property, then you should file an affidavit with the court to challenge the landlord's right to hold your property.  This must be filed within 21 days of the lock change.  The landlord does have the right to charge reasonable storage fees, or moving and storage fees before returning your property to you. 

If you have been through the court process or the constable/sheriff locked you out, then you only have 14 days to file a motion (not affidavit) to challenge the landlord’s right to hold your property.  The landlord must wait 21 days, however, before disposing of your property.

What happens if I am not arrested or I am released and still live in the house?

The landlord cannot lock you out if you or someone in your household remains in the dwelling.  The landlord must then proceed with an eviction by serving a 4 Day Forcible Entry or Forcible Detainer Notice.  After this Notice expires, the landlord must then serve a 4 Day Housebreaking Notice.  You must file an affidavit with the court to contest the eviction before the court clerk closes on the 4th business day after receiving the notice.  Do not count weekends, holidays, or other days the court is closed.   

The landlord may also serve a 5 Day Unlawful Detainer Notice.  This Notice is similar to the 4 Day Housebreaking Notice, except you get one extra weekday to file your affidavit. 

I received a 4 Day Housebreaking Notice.  What can I do?

A 4 Day Housebreaking Notice must have been preceded by a 4 Day Forcible Entry or 4 Day Forcible Detainer Notice.  You then have 4 business days after the day you receive the notice to either move out, request a delay in the eviction (stay), or contest the eviction.  Do not count weekends, holidays, and other days the court is closed.  To contest the eviction, you must file an affidavit with the court.

I contested the eviction by filing an affidavit.  What happens next?

The court will review your affidavit.  If your affidavit contains an element of a legal defense, then the court will schedule a hearing.  If your affidavit does not contain an element of a legal defense, the court will order your eviction.  An eviction order will be signed by the judge and a constable/sheriff will lock you out within 24 hours (unless the court granted your stay request).

If your affidavit raised an element of a legal defense, then the court will schedule a hearing.  You and your landlord will be required to attend the hearing and the court will determine if you have raised a legal defense.  If you fail to raise a legal defense, you will be locked out.  The court can delay the lockout by providing 20 days before the constable/sheriff locks you out. 

If you have been locked out, you will then have 21 days to retrieve your property.  The landlord does have the right to charge reasonable storage fees, or moving and storage fees before returning your property to you.  See “What happens to my personal property left behind?” above.