After the eviction moratorium in Nevada ended on May 31, 2021, a new eviction bill called AB486 took effect on July 4, 2021, to add a layer of protection to about 49,000 households in the state facing potential evictions. The legislation helps qualified renters buy more time to seek the relief fund provided by the federal government.
Although homeowners can now file for non-payment evictions, the proceedings remain suspended until a decision on the relief fund application has been made. With a total of $365 million of rental assistance received by the state, it needs time for the funds to be disbursed to approved applicants and eventually into the hands of rental owners.
If you’re a rental property owner in Las Vegas and have suffered considerable financial distress due to the eviction moratorium, chances are you want to pursue eviction of tenants who have defaulted on their rent. But there are new changes in the eviction proceedings that you need to know to avoid legal risks, or worse, get a court decision that’s not in your favor.
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When renters receive an eviction notice, they can now use an “affirmative defense” or a means to present evidence to negate the liability. In this case, renters responding to the eviction notice can cite defenses such as the right to a mediation, a pending relief fund application, or an uncooperative homeowner. However, under the AB486, they are encouraged to file a response to the eviction notice at the allotted time for their affirmative defense. If they fail to do so, the court can grant the eviction to proceed. Renters must also apply for the relief fund before the eviction proceedings reach the court for the hearing. They can refer to the Nevada Housing Division website to apply to the rental assistance programs where they qualify.
When a renter’s application for the relief fund is approved, the court rules that the funds go straight to you as the property owner, thereby reverting your renter’s payments to current status and compensating your losses. However, during the period of waiting, you cannot evict a renter for 90 days because, in essence, your renter no longer owes you back rent.
You may file on behalf of your renters if they cannot apply for any reason. It will also expedite the payment of the fund to you if the application is approved. The CARES Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) is one program you can apply for on behalf of your renter. Additional information on CHAP for homeowners is available at Nevada Clark County Social Service website.
With these new changes in the eviction process, here are three potential legal pitfalls you need to be aware of to avoid having the judge remove your case from the docket or list of pending trials.
1 – Failure to Correctly Interpret All Statutes
According to Donna, if you are to start an eviction process, it is not enough to refer only to the Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 118A. This is because there are different nuances in the notices of the statutes that you might miss if you are not adequately guided by legal counsel.
The statutes govern the eviction process in the whole state of Nevada. However, the differences are more about the forms to use or the notices you need to file depending on the district court where you belong.
Your present circumstance must match the type of notice you are requesting. The notice also varies depending on the length of tenancy, like weekly or monthly. Any lapses on your part to apply for the correct notice may cause the court to reject your case or have you start all over again.
In the table below, you can find the basic information on notices for eviction depending on the cause and the succeeding notices and actions if the renter fails to file a response in the allotted time.
2 – Serving the Notices By Yourself
In the previous eviction procedure, you usually serve the notice yourself. However, the new legislation prohibits you from doing that. “Since AB486, all notices must go through or served by the constable, process server, or a law firm to ensure that the renters are served with the correct eviction notice and in the right way,” explained Donna. This will also allow renters to verify that the eviction is indeed official, forcing them to respond and gain an opportunity to defend themselves in court.
The court also wants to know if you have exhausted all means to ensure the tenant received the notice. “During the pandemic, we covered all the bases and did all types of serving the notice — personal (hand over), post (on the door), and mail — to ensure that the judge has one less reason to reject our case,” said Donna.
3 – Not Knowing the New Language That Needs to Go Into the Notice
Under the legislation, a new language now needs to be contained in serving notices—you are now required to provide information about rental assistance. By doing so, you help your renters avoid confusion about the relief application, enabling them to apply to it right away. The sooner they apply, the sooner the court sees the renter’s case number and status (approved or not) in the rental assistance portal. The court then determines whether to grant the eviction or not.
According to Donna, AB486 will remain enforced until 2022 when the federal rental relief fund allocated to the state has been exhausted. While it may appear as a setback for you, it actually warrants your compensation once your renter’s application is approved.
We invite you to watch the full video of this webinar to hear all legal insights straight from Donna.
As a final recommendation, she encourages hiring a property manager to guide you in the eviction process and help you avoid confusion and potential problems. “They know the law and serve as a buffer between you and your renters. They also work with a legal team if the situation becomes a full-blown eviction,” she adds.
Whether you have a single property or a more extensive portfolio, it is in your best interest to work with a property manager that partners with legal counsel. If you have an impending eviction, they help ensure that the process goes well and according to law, saving you from potential legal trouble.