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Think twice before kicking out your houseguest.

What many people in Nevada fail to realize is that a houseguest could be considered a “tenant” for legal purposes, thereby complicating the relationship between the homeowner and houseguest. The most common issue that arises from this relationship is when the guest doesn’t want to leave, despite the owner’s requests.

Understand that if you let someone stay in your house indefinitely, the law could classify him/her as a “tenant at will.” A “tenancy at will” exists when the parties have no lease agreement or rent arrangement, but the owner has given the guest/occupant permission to stay in the property. Thus, if your “tenant” refuses to leave upon request, you would have to evict him/her by court order to legally remove him/her from your property. This is the part that surprises many people and creates an unexpected headache.

Fortunately, Nevada has a relatively quick summary eviction process, but it still takes time and effort. You can serve your tenant with a 5-day notice to quit the premises, which essentially tells your tenant that he/she must leave within 5 judicial days, i.e. excluding weekends and court holidays. If your tenant does not leave within those 5 days, then you would have to serve a 5-day unlawful detainer notice, which tells the tenant that he/she is unlawfully on the premises and has 5 judicial days to vacate. If the tenant still fails to leave within that time, then you can seek your summary eviction order from the court to have the constable remove the tenant within 24 hours of the court issuing the order.

If you don’t follow the proper eviction steps, you risk either having your eviction denied and having to restart the eviction process, or illegally locking out the tenant. If you decide to take your chances by simply locking the tenant out, then you risk the tenant filing a complaint for illegal lockout to seek any actual damages he/she incurred from your lockout, and up to $2,500 in statutory damages, among other remedies. Hopefully, your relationship with your initial houseguest won’t degrade to the level of having to worry about such legal complications, but you never know. These laws and processes exist for a reason and have been utilized by many individuals! Just be aware of the possibilities and the proper steps to take in the event it happens to you.