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Lawyers in Las Vegas say recourse for unruly community members is buried under politicians’ swagger

Not everyone in Sin City is there for the strip, shows, and gambling. Las Vegas, Nevada may have a reputation as a party town, but residents of the southeast corner of that desert state are trying just as hard as most Americans to get along peaceably with each other, and that includes having a nice, quiet retreat to come home to after a long work shift in whatever industry. But some home owners are turning to lawyers in Las Vegas for help, as their best efforts to secure peace and quiet are being thwarted by unruly neighbors and “HOA laws that have hamstrung their ability to govern themselves and keep their community safe,” according to this article in the Las Vegas Review Journal.

“Unruly” is not being used flippantly in this case, even for Sin City: after a killing in an upscale community, all of whose homes are valued at $500,000 and above, the Home Owners’ Association and the community members are asking lawyers in Las Vegas what they can do to take action. Because if having a death in the house next door isn’t enough, there have been complaints in the gated subdivision of “at least four brothels, a counterfeiting ring, a chop shop, a drug ring, a meth lab, an auto repair business, unlicensed pit bull breeders” and more.

Many of the HOA members see the problem individuals in the community as “riffraff” and “chronic offenders,” but the main difference between “us” and “them,” HOA president of the community clarifies in the Review Journal interview, is that the trouble-makers are tenants, not homeowners. With the HOA’s inability to legally kick out tenants, the home owners find themselves increasingly frustrated by the city’s failure to “step in an enforce traffic laws, nuisance laws, licensing violations, or anything else for that matter.” Which is why the group has asked the help of some lawyers in Las Vegas to find out what options they actually have to reestablish the safety of their community.

Part of the problem are that Nevada’s housing and eviction statutes are “in constant flux and can be hard to navigate” for all but the most experienced lawyers in Las Vegas like Michael C. Van, who could point homeowners to a series of available actions against the community’s problem residents like imposing fines or even the eventual foreclosure of the home if there is a documented threat to the health, safety or welfare of neighbors. “Documented nuisances will also expedite the process,” the Review Journal reports.

But that’s exactly the trouble, is that the city isn’t documenting the nuisances for this community, and since the state legislators “are often more susceptible to special interests and investors,” concerned residents “can have more influence on local politicians such as council and commission members.” While Van and other attorneys might insist that the legal recourse is there to begin with, State Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) reiterates that residents might have more luck in effecting change simply by convincing local politicians to address their cause.

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