CARSON CITY — Proponents of a renters’ rights measure said Friday that landlords in Nevada can move too quickly against slow-paying tenants, and lawmakers should change that by allowing more time for renters to catch up on what they owe.
Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, told the Assembly Judiciary Committee his Assembly Bill 189 would, among other things, double Nevada’s five-day period during which tenants can stay in rented homes or apartments before being subject to an eviction order for nonpayment.
Hogan said the current time frame is one of the shortest in the nation, adding that his bill would restore a good balance between landlord and renter rights "and give tenants and their families a little more time to avoid homelessness in these very difficult times."
Jon Sasser of Washoe Legal Services backed the bill, saying there’s "much mud that can be thrown in both directions" by proponents and opponents of the measure and legislators need to "stay above the fray" and make a fair decision.
Under the current system, "things are out of balance and in favor of the landlords here, and the playing field needs to be leveled," Sasser added.
"Some of our clients do have to pick whether they’re going to buy food for their children or whether they’re going to pay their rent, late fees and utilities," Rhea Gertken of Las Vegas-based Nevada Legal Services added in arguing for the bill’s approval.
Rental property owners, managers and landlord groups turned out in force to oppose AB189, warning that the bill would give an unwarranted break to renters and scare off investors who might otherwise acquire apartment properties in Nevada.
"It’s the bad tenant who this law will protect," said Rhonda Cain of Reno, a property owner and investor and member of the Northern Nevada Apartment Association. Cain said such laws in California favor renters over landlords and "it’s beyond me that we would want to mirror California at this point."
Barbara Holland of the Institute of Real Estate Management in Las Vegas also opposed the bill, saying landlords try to work with renters but it’s "a sad fact that a lot of times our rent money is sitting at the craps tables at one of the local casinos."
Bret Holmes of the Southern Nevada Multi-Housing Association said it typically takes three to four weeks to get a nonpaying tenant out of a rental unit and AB189 could increase that to six to eight weeks.
One section of the bill, extending from three to five days the time for a renter to leave after getting a formal notice to move out, was opposed by Reno police officer Kellie Scott, who said the extension could result in more time for illegal activities such as drug-dealing or prostitution.
Scott also said that with the extension created by the bill, renters involved in illegal activity would have more time to retaliate against a neighbor they suspected of giving a landlord information that led to their eviction.