In Nevada, landlords hold all the cards—and tenants have few rights or recourse under the Silver State’s speedy eviction system.

Jonathan Norman, the statewide advocacy, outreach and policy director for Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers, said reforming Nevada’s “backwards” summary eviction law will be a priority in the coming legislative session.

For decades, critics of the Nevada summary eviction system—which is unique among the 50 states—have complained the process is backward and counterintuitive. That’s because it’s up to the defendant, the tenant, to initiate the involvement of a court.

“I’m not aware of any other legal proceeding that starts with someone filing an answer,” Norman said. Having landlords start the 7-day-eviction procedure by filing a notice with the court, rather than just taping a notice to tenants’ doors and having the tenants file an affidavit with the court if they want to fight, would also provide a way to accurately track evictions in the Silver State, he said.

“We have no idea how many of those notices are posted every month,” Norman said.

Under current law, a landlord can download an eviction form from the internet, fill it out and put it on a tenant’s door. If a tenant wants to fight the eviction, they have to file an answer with the court, and a hearing will be scheduled. If the tenant vacates instead, there’s no official record of the eviction. “That’s functioning like an eviction, but there’s no way to track it,” Norman said. “That way, there’s no way to even understand the scope of the problem. … We’re missing all those cases where households are getting those 7-day notices.”

If the tenant doesn’t file an answer with the court, the landlord can apply for a lockout notice after seven days. “So I think the speed of the process in Nevada is also a problem,” Norman said. “What I hear from legal services all over the state is that often, the first time the tenant really understands that they are going to lose their housing is when they get a lockout notice from the constable.”

By then, he said, it’s usually too late. “We really try to scramble to do things, but (by then), it’s really hard to intervene for a good outcome,” Norman said. “And the cost for our social services, when they have to engage in that rapid re-housing, is very expensive.”

Transparency regarding the added fees that landlords charge to tenants also needs to be addressed in law, Norman said.

“There are often ancillary fees, starting with application fees when people apply to rent a unit,” he said. “If (a landlord) has one or two units to rent, and dozens of prospective tenants are paying application fees, that money should be returned” to the applicants who didn’t get the apartments.

Other fees include “portal” charges when a tenant pays rent online. “That’s all included in the costs of housing, but a lot of those are (now) hidden,” he said, which allows unscrupulous landlords to take advantage of the system.

Other priorities for reforming landlord-tenant laws, he said, include bills that failed to pass in the 2021 legislative session, and extending a law related to rental assistance programs, which is scheduled to sunset in June: Two years ago, lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 486, which connected eviction proceedings to the rental-assistance process, to prevent tenants from being locked out while applications were being approved. That law expires June 5, but can be reauthorized in the session.

“That legislation allows the tenant to have a defense if they have a pending rental assistance application,” Norman said.

Lawmakers also are expected to revisit a proposal extending the period of no-cause eviction from 30 to 60 days. That provision, which was opposed by the Nevada State Apartment Association, made it through the State Senate in the 2021 session, but died in the Assembly when Sandra Jauregui, a real estate agent, declined to schedule it for a hearing.

In general, Norman said, Nevada’s speedy eviction process needs to be slowed down to allow tenants more time to deal with an eviction and/or find alternative housing. In Nevada, he noted, tenants facing eviction often are put in a position where they have just days to figure out how they will keep a roof over their heads.

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  1. For 10 years I lived next door to my landlord in a make-shift duplex arrangement. Not once did I ever have a party or a dinner guest for that matter. About 7 years ago I
    went to coffee around the corner; upon my return I notice something taped on my front door. It was an eviction notice, legal in Reno. I had 30 days to be gone. 10 years of living next to one another, he chose to evict me rather than have a beer on the patio and express his desire to go another direction.

    30 days? Really? In a tight rental market and I’m supposed to relocate within 30 days? It’s ridiculous. The law should allow for 60 to 90 days to relocate when getting an eviction notice of this type. A landlord shouldn’t have to give a reason, just a reasonable time period to get a new home located and money together required at the new place. I was lucky I had local family to help me deal with the inconvenience I was facing.

    BTW, I wrote two State legislators about my plight and not a single comment from either of them.

  2. This is messed up, but as a landlord anything we say over a beer on the patio can be used against us in a court of law. For example, If I say “I need to move my son in law in, who’s going through a divorce.” the judge can simply say “What makes your son in law more important than your tenant?” And then deny the eviction or give 90 days instead of the 30 I need etc. Yes it sucks for the tenant, but for the homeowner/landlord it’s best to evict under “no cause” and not say anything at all.

  3. Monty, well said. “it’s best for the landlord”. That’s the whole point of this article: unfair treatment of tenants. Most of us living in the Truckee Meadows have seen the landlord attitudes in “light” rental markets offering maybe 1 – 2 months free rent and no deposits to indiscriminate rent increases in a “tight” market. Those increases always explained by the form letter telling us of their unexpected out-of-control energy and maintenance costs.

  4. Steve, I truly do feel for you. I have been homeless myself before, and had to live out of my pickup truck for lack of housing, and moved from place to place by the police for sleeping in my truck. I’ve seen both sides. I’ve been kicked out my apartment because landlord did not pay his mortgage – no fault of my own. Perhaps we need a forum that would address the needs of both the homeowner/landlord AND the tenant? My best wishes to you!

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