AG Ford: Be aware of new tenant-landlord rights (opinion)

Attorney General Aaron Ford

Submitted by Attorney General Aaron Ford

Tenants are encouraged to become knowledgeable about their rights and the effect of a new law recently passed in Nevada. Senate Bill (SB) 151, which took effect on July 1, 2019, imposes limits and a minimum time period for landlords seeking eviction of tenants in Nevada. The law does not authorize landlords to independently raise rent, increase fees, or make any other changes to terms of an existing lease. Claims that SB 151 requires changes to existing or even new leases are incorrect.

Among other things, existing Nevada law protects both tenants and landlords from making changes to existing lease terms without the other’s consent. Even where a tenant has not signed a lease, landlords cannot impose unfair fees or eliminate grace periods for the late payment of rent. Most importantly, the decision to charge fees for new leases is the decision of a landlord. Consumers are encouraged to learn more about tenant and landlord by contacting a legal aid organization, some of which offer assistance and classes regarding tenant rights, or by seeking the advice of a private attorney. 

As attorney general, I strive to protect Nevadans by educating them about current laws and changes to those laws. The contract between a tenant and landlord is one of the most important deals Nevadans make, and I’m proud to provide information and resources Nevadans can use to learn more about their rights.

Here is a general overview of some of the rights tenants have in Nevada:

Changes to Rent Amount or Fees:

  • Under Nevada law, after a lease contract is signed, a landlord may not adopt rules or regulations that affect the tenant’s obligation to pay rent, utilities or other charges. Landlords may adopt rules and regulations related to how the tenant may use the unit, such as building quiet times, pet allowance and the disposal of garbage, so long as they do not alter the length of tenancy and amount of rent. This means that a landlord cannot enforce any rules and regulations that attempt to increase rent or add other charges during the lease term. 
  • Any changes to rent or fees in long-term leases must be agreed to by both parties and memorialized in a new lease or an amendment to an existing lease. Absent an agreement by both parties, changes to an existing lease agreement cannot be made while the agreement is still in effect.
  • Even in the absence of a lease, Nevada and federal law provide protections for those living month-to-month. Before a rent increase, landlords must provide 45 days’ notice for tenancies longer than a month, and 15 days’ notice for those who have a periodic tenancy of less than one month (generally those who pay weekly).

Discriminatory Practices:

  • Nevada and federal law prohibit discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, handicap or disability. These protections are in place regardless of whether a tenant has signed a lease agreement.
  • With regard to handicap or disability, this means that landlords must make reasonable accommodations in its rules, policies, practices or services if needed for a person with a disability to use the place where he or she lives. This requirement extends to those tenants requesting changes to the due date for rent to accommodate when they receive Social Security or other disability payments.
  • Similarly, landlords may not adopt policies or practices that unfairly affect groups based on race, color or national origin. This can include such things as extra fees that affect some protected classes more than others.

This overview is not an exhaustive list of all of the rights of Nevada tenants. Nevada tenants seeking assistance should contact a legal aid organization or a private attorney. A list of statewide pro bono legal services is available on the State Bar of Nevada’s website. Some pro bono legal services even offer classes to assist Nevadan’s about tenant rights. Complaints specific to claims that SB 151 requires changes to existing or even new leases should be directed to the Attorney General’s Office by filing a complaint form and including the specific claims.

Submitted opinions do not represent the views of ThisisReno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article here.

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