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CONTACT 13: Investor leaving Las Vegas because of squatter problem

Posted at 2:45 PM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 02:37:17-04
Thousands of people are living illegally in homes and condos all over the valley. Breaking in. Taking over. Bringing crime. Trashing properties. 
Contact 13 peels another layer off Southern Nevada's squatter problem -- showing how it's impacting our economy by scaring investors away.
Casa Vegas was once a modest but solid community near Maryland Parkway and Vegas Valley Drive but squatters have turned it into a living hell. Residents are scrambling to get out. Realtors can't rent or sell available units. And investors are seeing their money go down the drain. Just how bad is it? 
Realtor Julia Suarez has seen enough. "I'm sick to my stomach," she says. 
She called security and recorded a scene of a woman believed to be squatting at Casa Vegas.   
"How's he gonna say I'm squatting!" On Julia's cell phone recording, the woman is heard screaming at several residents. "My mom lives right here!  We're moving! Yea you did! It's broke!"
Julia continued to record as the woman became more agitated.  "You want to tell me that my sh-- not f---ing broke! You didn't break my property?! I'll break yours!"

Julia says squatters have already made good on that threat.
"They vandalize the AC units that's above the units on the roof. They took out the thermostats."
The squatters have gone so far as to cut holes in the walls allowing them to access the units. There's one that goes to yet another unit. The place is completely unsecured allowing the squatters free access to come and go.
"They have stole everything, I mean everything. From the top to the bottom," says Patt Burton. 
Patt used to consider this condo her home until suspected squatters started a fire in some vacant units on New Year's Eve displacing 17 adults and 19 children after the building was left with no power or water.
"My world has ended. My total world is gone," Patt cries. "They stole my bed! They stole my bed! And my granddaughter's bed."
While residents like Patt are leaving, property owners are faced with big bills to fix the damage.   
One investor who Julia represents owned 15 properties. He sunk a lot of money into the Las Vegas economy, but is calling it quits because of squatters. 
"He just said, 'Sell them all. Get rid of them all. I can't do this anymore,'" Julia explains. 
The investor's insurance no longer pays for repairs.
Julia fears it's a downward spiral. 
Julia absolutely thinks this is something that is potentially going to signify a trend where we see real estate investors divesting.
Casa Vegas is in Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani's district.
"It's a disappointment in that that would just further destabilize that area."
Commissioner Giunchigliani says what's happened to Casa Vegas is truly a shame.  Adding that the HOA and Pinnacle Community Management are failing to address the squatter problem. 
"That's who they need to start with to hold accountable. Do you even know who's in your units? Do you even know who's given permission to be renting there?" 
Neighbors say their complaints to management have fallen on deaf ears. 
"We made multiple complaints to the HOA. And we even called the police," says resident Andrew Barnes. "And it just spread. It went like a rash."
Remember that New Year's Eve fire?
"The same people who burned it down are still running through here," says Andrew. 
While people like Patt Burton have lost everything. 
"They've taken my world to shreds. I'm shredded."
No one from the HOA or Pinnacle Property Management would go on camera.  Over the phone, Pinnacle told me they're doing their best to work with police, but have a major problem working with homeowners. Many have walked away from their properties and ignore all correspondence, making it impossible for the HOA to step in, take control and kick squatters out.