Understanding Nevada’s Eviction Moratorium

Understanding Nevada’s Eviction Moratorium

By: Alexander J. Hinman, Esq.

May 18, 2021

It has been over a year since Nevada’s Governor, Steve Sisolak, put into effect an emergency directive prohibiting all eviction actions in the state of Nevada based on nonpayment of rent. Fourteen months later, the state moratorium is scheduled to be lifted on May 31, 2021. Despite a series of extensions up to this point, Governor Sisolak has stated the moratorium will not be extended beyond this date. Given the multitude of previous extensions, some are understandably skeptical of this assertion; however, this seems to be believable as when the last extension was signed, Governor Sisolak stated, “[o]riginally, I did not plan on extending this moratorium today,” and he indicated his decision was made on account of there still being unused funding available to help both tenants and landlords. Thus, it seems likely that May 31, 2021 will be the date the state ban is lifted – exactly one month before the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) moratorium ends.

Some Facts And A Little History

It is estimated that around 44% of Nevada residents are renters. One study, relying on a Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, found that 15.5% of Nevada renters are behind on rent payments. Thus, out of the 3.8 million Nevada residents, 1.67 million are tenants and approximately 250,800 are behind on rent.

On March 29, 2020, a moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent was enacted (Directive 036 and 043) which prohibited unlawful detainer actions – actions removing individuals who are retaining possession of property without legal right. The stated goal of the moratorium was to ensure tenants would continue to have housing despite hardships incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the moratorium was enacted, it covered both residential and commercial properties. While the residential moratorium continues until the end of May 2021, the directive covering commercial property expired June 30, 2020.

The moratorium on the federal level, was extended by the CDC in March and now ends a month after Nevada’s, on June 31, 2021. This presents a gap between the federal and state’s directive. While this gap presents some issues of first impression, in practice it is unlikely have an effect on proceeding with an action for eviction during this period so long as an Eviction Protection Declaration (available at the CDC’s website) is presented along with the notice to “pay or quit.”

Of note regarding the CDC ban on evictions, on May 5, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich said that the CDC overstepped their authority with the moratorium, and held that as a result the directive was void. Following that decision, the Justice Department sought an emergency order to put Friedrich’s decision on hold, arguing that “evictions exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.” Judge Friedrich thereafter agreed to temporarily put her ruling on hold pending an appeal.

Eviction Process

Never truer than during the pandemic, Nevada Revised Statute 118A.390 makes it illegal for a landlord to use “self-help evictions” to carry out an eviction (EX: changing the locks, making living conditions unbearable, etc.). Further, Unless the tenant has surrendered or abandoned possession of the rental property, you must file an eviction case in order to remove the tenant. (NRS 118A.480). Thus, proper measures must be taken, which include some new elements not previously necessary before the pandemic.

To begin the process, the first step is to provide notice to the tenant – all evictions require notice. While this article focuses on nonpayment of rent – there are various forms for notice depending on the circumstances. E.g., notices for nuisance, waste, unlawful business, violation of lease, etc. For non-payment, Nevada Revised Statutes require a seven-day notice to the tenant, instructing the tenant to rent or quit the rental property. (NRS 40.253(1)(1)). During the moratorium period, affidavits must be provided to the tenant that they can fill-out, allowing for tenants to attest to the fact, inter alia, that they have been impacted by COVID-19 and fall within the “Covered Persons” of the directive. These forms have evolved throughout the pandemic, and a most-recent version can be found on Nevada’s Health Response website.

Covered Persons are defined as individuals, “unable, due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, to pay the full rent due to substantial loss of household income, significant loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.” Further, there are additional prerequisites regarding household income, (cannot exceed $99,000 for an individual and $198,000 for a joint-filing). It’s important to note that answers on the forms are done under the penalty of perjury.

After properly serving the tenant with notice (in compliance with NRS 40.280), the next step is to file a complaint with the justice court if the tenant refuses to comply with the “pay or quit” notice. This complaint cannot be filed until the completion of the seven-day “pay or quit” notice, meaning this cannot be filed until the eighth judicial day after service was effectuated. After the complaint is filed, the tenant has 5 judicial days to respond. If they do not respond within this time, they are subject to a default judgement. If they do respond, the matter will be set for trial.

The information presented in this article is not to be taken as legal or accounting advice. Every situation is different. If you are facing a legal or accounting issue of any kind, get competent legal and/or accounting advice in your state immediately so that you can determine your best options.

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