Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a directive that gradually lifts the moratorium on evictions starting this week. The eviction moratorium has been in place since late March to protect Nevadans from housing insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck talked to Deonne Contine, the executive director of Washoe Legal Services, about what tenants can expect moving forward.
Lucia Starbuck: Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a directive that will slowly lift Nevada's moratorium on evictions. Can you break down some of those changes? What can tenants expect?
Contine: Starting July 1, former owners of houses that have been foreclosed on, or sold, can be evicted by new owners through a formal eviction. Business commercial evictions can resume and mobile home owners who rent space can be evicted through formal eviction processes.
Starting on Aug. 1, that's the first main round of limited evictions. At that time, tenants can be evicted if their leases have expired, and the landlords have not consented to the tenant staying. There can be tenants that are at will, they don't really have a lease, like a guest staying with somebody, [that] can be evicted. Tenants can be evicted for nuisance. Tenants can be evicted for violating provisions of the lease.
I think the main one is the Sept. 1 deadline, which is that tenants can be evicted, essentially, for nonpayment of rent and that tenants who pay rent monthly or weekly, that have no lease, can also be evicted for no cause.
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Starbuck: As of right now, late fees are not due, correct?
Contine: Late fees cannot be assessed during the period of the moratorium, and that is through the Aug. 31 date. So, starting Sept. 1st, tenants can be charged late fees and penalties going forward, but not retroactively.
Starbuck: For the evictions that were processed before the eviction moratorium, are those still valid?
Contine: It depends. The eviction process starts with the notice. The notice that would go to the tenant and the court doesn't become involved in a dispute until the tenant files an answer, and then it's contested in court. So, any notice that was provided to the tenant prior to the moratorium would be void unless an answer was filed.
Starbuck: Tenants still owe rent, right? How long do they have to pay that back?
Contine: The tenants will owe the rent if they've missed their rental payments during the moratorium. One of the things in the directive that the governor issued last week was a [Lease Addendum/Promissory Note for Rental arrearages due to COVID-19]. That is a form that tenants and landlords can use to come up with a repayment schedule. That process is completely voluntary as the directive says, but it also recommends that landlords not require tenants to pay more than 15 percent of their income for rent.
It attempts to kind of provide some guidance on how landlords and tenants might get into a repayment plan and give some guidance on the terms going forward.
Starbuck: What are your thoughts on this new lease agreement? Do you have any concerns?
Contine: I think that because of the timeline, one of the things that we've been recommending is that people kind of take a little bit of a breath right now because we do have this Sept. 1 timeline. So, it's really a time to think about where you are, where you might be, and to really decide whether a repayment plan makes sense for you, and how you might go about doing that.
I think the concept is good and I think it provides a framework for tenants and landlords to begin the discussions about how a tenant can stay in their home, and how the landlord can get paid back the rent that they have been missing during this pandemic, if that's the case.
Starbuck: Is there anything else you want tenants to know at this time?
Contine: Take a deep breath, think about your situation, be on the lookout for programs, be gathering your documents that show the effect of the pandemic on you, evaluate your financial situation and don't feel pressured to get into a repayment plan that doesn't make sense for you or that you don't have time to fully evaluate.
FAQ on Gov. Steve Sisolak's directive to gradually lift Nevada's eviction moratorium can be found here.