How Do Landlords and Tenants Resolve Disputes?
Issues often arise in landlord-tenant relationships. Some issues can be resolved through an open line of communication between the landlord and tenant. However, sometimes disputes cannot be dissolved among the parties and legal action is required. It is important to understand when legal intervention is necessary as early intervention by an attorney can often prevent hostile, and sometimes expensive, disputes.
How Does the Eviction Process Work?
Eviction does not happen overnight. The eviction process requires several steps. The first step in the eviction process is to determine whether the tenant must be served with a 5-Day or 7-Day Notice. A 5-Day Notice to Perform Lease Condition or Quit is required when the dispute is about some lease condition other than money. A 7-Day Notice to Pay or Quit is required when there is a dispute over money, most commonly non-payment of rent.
If, after servicing the necessary notices, the tenant does not pay rent, or comply with the conditions of the lease or rental agreement, the landlord must file a Complaint for Summary Eviction in Justice Court. The tenant may respond by filing a written opposition to the eviction. The Justice Court will hold a hearing, and unless the tenant shows that he or she has a legal ground for remaining on the property, the Justice Court will grant the eviction. If the eviction is denied, the Justice Court will provide further instructions.
Can a Landlord Personally Serve Eviction Notices?
Not anymore. This is a recent change in Nevada law. Before July 2019, a landlord could serve all eviction notices. However, as a result of the July 2019 changes to landlord tenant law, landlords are now prevented from personally serving their own eviction notices. Now, only certain individuals (i.e. a sheriff, constable, process server, or agent of an attorney) may serve eviction notices.
When Can a Tenant Withhold Rent?
A tenant may withhold rent if the landlord fails to (1) maintain the dwelling in a habitable condition or (2) fails to supply essential items and services. If the air conditioning goes out, the tenant can withhold rent until the air conditioner is repaired. Other examples of issues which permit a tenant to withhold rent include (1) broken locks on the outside of the home, (2) toxic mold in the home, (3) broken ventilation, or (4) broken plumbing which causes the home to be unsanitary.
Even if the tenant has the right to withhold rent, Nevada law requires the tenant to take specific steps to deposit the rent funds in either an escrow account or with the court. A tenant should always inform the landlord, in writing, if rent is being withheld.
Can a Landlord Keep the Security Deposit?
Even where the tenant leaves at the end of a lease, there is often a dispute over the security deposit. After a tenant has vacated the rental property, the landlord has a limited period of time to either return the security deposit or provide the tenant with a detailed explanation of the amounts being held by the landlord. Whether or not a landlord can keep a security deposit is a factual determination that may change on a case by case basis.
Who is Responsible for Utilities?
Utility responsibility varies by location. In Las Vegas it is most common that water, trash, and sewage will be in the name of the property owner; and as part of the lease agreement, the tenant will agree to pay a specific amount each month for their use of the utilities.
Can the Landlord Increase the Rent?
It is not uncommon for a landlord to increase the rent, after the expiration of the lease. For a tenant that pays monthly, a landlord may increase the rent on a rental property after providing the tenant with at least 45-days notice, which should include the amount of the increase and the date the increased rate will begin. If the tenant pays more frequently (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly), the landlord is only required to give 15 days notice before increasing the rent.
If I Buy a Rental Property, Do I Have to Keep the Tenant?
The answer to this common question is also governed by a recent change in Nevada law. Under the new law, this answer depends on whether the property was purchased at a private sale, or if the property was purchased at a foreclosure auction.
In cases where the property was purchased via a private sale, the buyer is, in most cases, required honor the existing lease.
If the property is purchased at a foreclosure sale, then the buyer will not necessarily have to honor the existing lease. However, the tenant does have certain rights and protections that prevents them from being immediately dispossessed of their dwelling as a result of a foreclosure sale. In most foreclosure cases, the home buyer will have to honor the lease for a short period of time to allow the tenant an opportunity to find new accommodations. However, if the tenant fails to pay rent during this transition period, the buyer has options to commence immediate eviction proceedings.
I have a landlord – tenant dispute, what should I do now?
Given the recent changes in Nevada law, the best approach is to consult with an experienced landlord-tenant attorney. The attorneys at The Wright Law Group, P.C. are up to date on the latest changes in the law, and we can help. Call us today at (702) 405-0001 for a free consultation.