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More Nevada courts have halted eviction proceedings due to virus

Updated March 18, 2020 - 6:17 pm

Update: More courts in Southern Nevada have temporarily halted eviction proceedings due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Chief judges in the Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson justice courts issued administrative orders on Tuesday and Wednesday, suspending proceedings for at least 30 days.

The three courts serve the entire Las Vegas Valley. More than 36,000 eviction cases were filed in the courts last year, including more than 2,800 in March 2019.

Reno Justice Court administrator James Conway said his court will likely adopt a new administrative order soon, although he could not comment directly on whether it would affect evictions.

“The judges are reviewing the order that came out of Las Vegas Justice Court and considering similar measures,” he said.

Additionally, most Nevada homeowners are being shielded from foreclosure due to action taken by the federal government on Wednesday. Mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not be subject to foreclosure proceedings for the next 60 days.

Nevada State Treasurer Zach Conine wrote in a statement Wednesday the actions will protect roughly 85 percent of the state’s single-family homeowners.

“We are hopeful that landlords will use this temporary relief provided by the federal government to give their tenants flexibility to delay rent payments in the event that they are furloughed or laid off because of the impact of COVID-19,” he wrote.

The previous story:

The Las Vegas Justice Court on Tuesday suspended all eviction proceedings for at least the next 30 days, according to an administrative order obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The order says the change is necessary to protect the community amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus across Nevada.

“In light of what was going on in the world, it was an absolutely necessary thing,” said Lauren Pena, directing attorney for the Civil Law Self-Help Center in Las Vegas. “I think it will help people stay indoors and maintain their housing when they need housing the most.”

The order will prevent new eviction cases from being heard by the court and will suspend proceedings for ongoing cases, Pena said.

The Las Vegas Justice Court is responsible for all eviction cases in the city of Las Vegas and unincorporated parts of the Las Vegas Valley. More than 30,000 eviction cases were filed with the court last year — well more than half of all eviction cases filed in the state.

Chief Judge Suzan Baucum and Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Kristina Pickering co-signed the order Tuesday, one day after two advocacy groups — the Nevada Housing Rights Coalition and the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers — both requested a statewide moratorium on evictions.

Bailey Bortolin, policy director for the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers, said it is asking that tenants still be required to pay their rent, but that they could not be evicted for failing to do so until the moratorium was lifted.

Other states, including New York, have already placed statewide suspensions on eviction proceedings.

Gov. Steve Sisolak’s staff could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Las Vegas Justice Court – C… by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

A growing number of casino workers have faced layoffs in recent days as travel demand and Strip occupancy rates have dropped because of the coronavirus. The moratorium is supported by Culinary Local 226, which is the state’s largest union and represents about 60,000 workers in the gaming, hotel and food service industries.

Sisolak on Tuesday also announced a 30-day statewide closure of restaurants, bars and other nonessential businesses.

The expected loss of income for many Nevadans has raised concerns among tenant advocates about a spike in evictions for nonpayment of rent. State law allows landlords to evict tenants in as little as 15 days if they miss a payment.

In addition to addressing evictions, the Nevada Housing Rights Coalition requested more resources be directed toward keeping homeless people safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

In letters sent to local government officials in Clark and Washoe counties, the coalition proposed that the state use emergency funding to house unsheltered people in vacant trailers and hotel and motel rooms. And it requested that the city of Las Vegas suspend its new camping ban on city streets and for no local governments to conduct homeless camp sweeps.

“People who might be feeling unwell should not feel as though they have to go to a crowded shelter under fear of citation or arrest,” said Emily Paulsen, executive director of the Nevada Homeless Alliance, which is part of the coalition. “Someone who is homeless and camping right now, that might be their only means to self quarantine.”

The Nevada Housing Rights Coalition members include the ACLU of Nevada, the Nevada Homeless Alliance and community and advocacy organizations from across the state.

The Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers is composed of five independent nonprofit legal service organizations that aid and represent low-income Nevadans.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

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