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Landlords express frustration with Sisolak eviction reprieve

Updated September 4, 2020 - 8:19 am

Renters received last-minute relief this week when Gov. Steve Sisolak extended the state’s eviction moratorium by 45 days, but many Nevada landlords aren’t too pleased.

Several organizations representing landlords in Nevada issued statements decrying Sisolak’s decision to halt landlords temporarily from evicting tenants for not being able to pay rent.

“It takes a village to maintain and operate these communities,” Nevada State Apartment Association Executive Director Susy Vasquez said. “Impacts to our industry trickle down to small business owners, service providers, product suppliers and trades.”

The state’s residential eviction moratorium based on nonpayment of rent was set to expire Tuesday until Sisolak announced the day before that he would extend the moratorium.

The move means Nevada’s rental debt could balloon to as much as $1.1 billion by December, according to a report by Las Vegas nonprofit research group Guinn Center.

Dickinson Wright attorney Caleb Green said the extension is great for struggling renters but deepens the financial burden placed on landlords.

“Any moratoriums on evictions puts pressure on landlords because they’re stuck,” Green said. “They don’t have any legal means of removing someone who is not paying, and then the landlord still has legal duties to provide. It has to be habitable. They still have a lot of legal responsibilities and obligations they have to meet.”

Extra time

Sisolak’s new directive means the eviction moratorium will not lift until Oct. 15.

The moratorium serves as protection for renters who have lost their jobs and can’t afford to pay rent, though they will be required to pay back missed rent payments. If tenants can afford to pay rent, they should, according to state guidance.

Many renters are likely going to hold off on rent payments as the state’s unemployment insurance claims have hit a record this year. There has been 670,400 initial claims filed in 2020 but 662,368 claims have been filed since the week ending March 14 through the week that ended Saturday, according to the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Las Vegas attorney Terry Moore of Marquis Aurbach Coffing said that though renters will owe missed payments, it’s possible landlords may not see the owed money.

“Realistically, if a tenant hasn’t paid rent in six months and they owe $6,000, the landlord is never going to see the money,” he said. “To the governor’s credit, that’s why he tried to encourage everyone to come up with some sort of arrangement with their landlord and why they implemented all those rental assistance programs.”

‘Not happy’

Landlords say they’ve maintained an open line of communication with their tenants, but Sisolak’s last-minute announcement of an extension has thrown a wrench in their planning.

“We are not happy with any delays since we have to prepare and gear up every time there is a new deadline for evictions,” Margaret Valdez, vice president of operations for real estate management firm WestCorp Management Group, said.

As the leasing season starts to slow down, she noted, there will be less opportunity to rent to potential residents who are employed “and have an interest to live at our communities.”

Trade organization Nevada Realtors echoed the same sentiment by saying that Sisolak’s decision gave property owners less than a day’s notice to determine their next step.

“This extension creates a tremendous hardship for thousands of property owners in Nevada, who are now unable to collect the rent they are owed for at least another 45 days,” NVR President Chris Bishop said in a statement. “Many of these property owners are retirees, people living on fixed incomes and mom-and-pop landlords who own one or two homes and rely on this rental income to support themselves and their families. Many of them will now have no recourse or way to cover their own expenses.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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