Updated August 3, 2021 - 6:14 am
A last-minute extension of the federal eviction moratorium failed to materialize over the weekend, leaving many Nevadans holding an eviction notice Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed through on its earlier decision not to extend its temporary eviction ban after July 31. That decision ended a nearly one-year protection for tenants who have been unable to pay rent during the pandemic.
Thousands in the Las Vegas Valley are facing possible eviction in the wake of the moratorium’s end, and many are reaching out for advice and help.
“Our phones have been ringing nonstop today,” said Jim Berchtold, directing attorney of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada’s Consumer Rights Project. “Most tenants are utterly confused about how to protect themselves.”
Berchtold said the end of the eviction moratorium also means eviction cases before the pandemic that were paused because of the state and federal moratorium can now move ahead.
Leavitt Evictions President Kaila Leavitt said she’s even received calls from tenants seeking help even though her company serves landlords.
“Naturally, when I tell tenants that we only help landlords I get called every name in the book and not in a good way,” she said.
Help for renters
State and local leaders have said for months that renters should take steps to protect themselves such as applying for rental assistance and communicating with their landlord on possible payment plans. And the messaging has not changed with the end of the federal moratorium, according to Berchtold.
He said the organization continues to tell tenants to take the following steps:
— Apply for the CARES Housing Assistance Program, or CHAP
— File an answer with the court if they have received an eviction notice
— Elect mediation when filing their answer and notify the court if they have a pending CHAP application
— Contact Legal Aid Center with questions at 702-386-1070 or visit the Civil Law Self-Help Center on the first floor of the Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas for in-person help
While Nevadans are no longer protected from an eviction notice, state protections are offered through the recently passed Assembly Bill 486, which initially delays the eviction process by at least 30 days.
Susy Vasquez, Nevada State Apartment Association’s executive director, said the bill has cushioned the impact of the moratorium ending.
“Residents who apply for rental assistance can remain in their homes until a decision on their application is made,” Vasquez said.
AB486 allows tenants with a pending CHAP application to have their eviction stayed, or paused, until the application is processed even if it will take several months. A tenant must notify the court of a pending rental application.
If a tenant is approved for rental assistance, the payment is made to the landlord. The renter’s eviction case is then dismissed and the landlord is not allowed to evict the tenant for at least another 90 days.
The bill also allows an eligible landlord to apply for rental assistance on behalf of a tenant. The landlord must wait up to 60 days after applying so a housing or social service agency can contact the tenant. If the tenant doesn’t respond to the agency or apply for rental assistance during that time frame, the landlord can receive the payment on the condition they not evict the tenant for 90 days.
Vasquez said the wait time baked into AB486 has landlords taking their time.
“Landlords are not in a rush to evict if they know there is a pending rent assistance application,” she said. “However, for those tenants who refuse to apply or we know were not impacted and refuse to pay, they will be served with an eviction notice.”
Some landlords are taking their time while others are finding their zeal to jump-start the eviction process tempered after learning about AB486, according to Leavitt.
“Explaining AB486 just really puts a damper on how happy they are to start the process when they initially call,” she said. “By the end of the conversation you can tell they feel defeated.”
Leavitt said she did have quite a few eviction notices scheduled for delivery Monday, but most were for no-cause evictions as opposed to nonpayment of rent notices.
“I’m anticipating that there’s going to be a flood of evictions coming my way, but the real question is, of those that are going through, how many are going to be hindered by AB486?”