Updated August 29, 2021 - 7:00 am
The Supreme Court decision to overturn the federal eviction moratorium Thursday is expected to have little effect in Nevada because the state already has protections in place for renters through Assembly Bill 486.
AB486, passed this year, slows the eviction process if a tenant has a pending rental assistance application. It also allows landlords to apply for rental aid on behalf of their tenant.
Jim Berchtold, directing attorney of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada’s Consumer Rights Project, said there is still hope for tenants even with the end of the federal moratorium.
“The governor and Legislature planned for the eventual end of the federal moratorium when they passed AB486 last session,” Berchtold said Friday. “We’re fortunate in Nevada … because we still have solid protections in place for tenants to avoid eviction.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Aug. 3 it would extend its federal eviction moratorium to Oct. 3 for tenants who have been unable to pay their rent. Unlike its previous moratorium, the latest CDC moratorium only applied to counties with substantial or high rates of COVID-19 community transmission, which would have included all Nevada counties except Storey, Pershing, Lander, Eureka and Esmeralda.
But the Supreme Court blocked the CDC moratorium, saying in an unsigned opinion that the CDC lacked the authority.
“It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of the COVID–19 delta variant. But our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends. It is up to Congress, not the CDC, to decide whether the public interest merits further action here,” according to the opinion.
File an answer
The end of the federal eviction moratorium means renters can be served with an eviction notice. Tenants must file an answer to an eviction notice with the court, even if a landlord says it’s unnecessary, but AB486 helps to delay the eviction process for renters who have not paid rent.
Berchtold said that if a tenant has a pending rental assistance application, it’s important to notify the court because it can pause the eviction proceeding until the application is processed.
He said tenants can receive help by visiting the Civil Law Self-Help Center at the Regional Justice Court in downtown Las Vegas or contact Legal Aid Center’s eviction prevention hotline at 702-386-1070.
Eligible tenants also should apply for rental assistance, said Stacy Lockhart, executive director of HopeLink of Southern Nevada.
Lockhart said the nonprofit has been helping to distribute rental, utility and mortgage assistance to Henderson and North Las Vegas residents. It has distributed about $6 million and has more than $2 million to split between residents in Henderson and North Las Vegas.
“We knew (the moratorium) couldn’t go on forever, and we’ve been prepared to help people,” Lockhart said. “We can pay up to six months in arrears. So what I want people to know is don’t freak out. If they get an eviction notice, they really need to respond to it.”
It’s estimated that federal and state eviction moratoriums have cost Nevada an estimated $12.6 million in lost sales and use tax revenue last year, according to a report by RCG Economics for Nevada Realtors and Nevada State Apartment Association.
The report also said economic activity generated by the state’s residential rental industry dropped 9 percent, or $511 million, in 2020 compared with 2019.
Kirby Scofield, real estate broker and owner of Scofield Realty, said the changes around the moratoriums — from expiring to being extended to new state rules on evictions — has been difficult for landlords and renters to track.
“As a landlord, I am pleased the Supreme Court ruled to end the federal eviction moratorium,” he said. “This is one of the best ways we can move forward in stabilizing the market. For those still in need of help during the pandemic, there are new rental assistance programs in Nevada that can continue to help with expenses.”