Both the state and the federal government have passed laws governing landlord-tenant relations. Since rental arrangements are a common source of disputes, there is a need to standardize how these disputes are managed and set the guidelines, rights, and obligations of each party involved. The following article outlines Nevada state and federal laws concerning fair housing and landlord and tenant rights and obligations.
> Housing Discrimination Laws
> How Landlords Should Make Decisions for Screening Tenants
> Nevada Regulations Concerning Security Deposits
> Nevada Regulations Concerning Rent
> Nevada Regulations Concerning Leases, Terminating Leases, and Evictions
> Nevada Regulations Concerning Notices of Entry
> Nevada Regulations Governing Landlord Disclosures
> Nevada Regulations Concerning Landlord Retaliation
> Other Nevada Regulations
> Nevada State Associations and Resources
Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws
Guided primarily by the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are specific restrictions on how landlords can screen their tenants. A landlord must not deny a rental application, report that a property is rented or sold when it is not, or charge tenants added security deposits based on their:
- Sex or gender,
- Religion or creed,
- Nation of origin,
- Or familial status.
Prohibited actions include but are not limited to:
- Discriminatory language in rental advertisements,
- Raising rent or charging added security based on the number of children a family has,
- Denying reasonable accommodations to an individual with a disability,
- Denying an individual with a service animal the right to rent a property based on a no-pets policy,
- Charging an individual with a service animal an added security deposit,
- Rescinding privileges of residency based on a protected characteristic.
Federal law, on the other hand, has no regulations concerning “emotional support animals,” which are considered distinct from service animals. Service animals are defined as those who perform a particular function. That can include a seeing-eye-dog for a blind tenant or a psychiatric service animal that prevents someone from harming themselves.
Landlords do have the right to ask tenants for proof that their animal is a trained medical service animal. They can also ask the tenant to provide written proof from a healthcare provider that the tenant sincerely needs the service animal.
In addition, landlords must not segregate tenants based on a protected characteristic.
Nevada Anti-Discrimination Laws
Remedies available to prospective tenants for discrimination are handled by the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC). A housing discrimination complaint form can be found on the website. Tenants can also file a federal complaint with HUD. Nevada laws concerning discrimination are found in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 118.
Federal law does not explicitly include the LGBTQ community; nor does it include sexual orientation or gender expression among the protected characteristics listed in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Nevada State Law, on the other hand, does.
Landlords can deem a tenant unqualified for residency for a number of legal reasons. These include:
- Poor credit,
- Prior eviction,
- Criminal record
On the other hand, landlords are well advised to make their selection process as transparent as possible. The best way to do this is by selecting the first qualified tenant. A method such as this will act as a sound defense against the appearance of discrimination if a tenant brings an action against a landlord.
The state of Nevada sets certain regulations concerning security deposits. Those include:
- The maximum value of any security deposit cannot exceed three months’ rent (NRS 118A.242(1));
- A landlord has 30 days to return a security deposit beginning on the date that the lease ended (NRS 118A.242(4)(5));
- If a landlord withholds any money from a security deposit, then he or she must provide the tenant with an itemized list of damages (NRS 118A.242(4)(5)).
There are no Nevada statutes that outline how or where security deposits are kept, but a landlord is expected to provide the tenant with a move-in checklist outlining the condition of the property at the time the tenant takes possession. This includes written notice that the tenant is expected to return the property in the same condition that they found it. In addition, the landlord must disclose the manner in which the security deposit will be refunded (NRS 118A.200).
If a landlord charges a tenant a non-refundable fee, the details of the fee – including an explanation as to why the fee will be withheld – must be included in the terms of the lease (NRS 118A.242(8)).
Nevada has no statutes concerning late fees, bounced checks, or prepaid rent.
If a landlord decides to raise a tenant’s rent, the landlord must inform the tenant in advance. In the case of a lease agreement or month-to-month agreement, the landlord must give the tenant 45 days notice. If the terms of the lease are less than a month, the landlord must give the tenant 15 days notice before the rent increase goes into effect (NRS 118A.300).
Tenants can withhold rent under the implied warranty of habitability if a landlord fails to provide essential services such as water, heat, or electricity (NRS 118.355). In the event that a landlord fails to provide necessary services, the tenant can repair the damage themselves and then deduct the cost from their rent (NRS 118.355).
A landlord can give a tenant a five-day notice to remedy or quit if the tenant is delinquent on rental payments (NRS 40.2512). In addition, if a tenant has violated some term of the lease, the landlord can also issue a five-day notice to remedy or quit. However, if the situation is not remedied within the first three days, the landlord initiate an eviction (NRS 40.2514, NRS 40.2516). Nevada expressly prohibits the use of lockouts or utility shutoffs (NRS 118A.390)
If a landlord is forced to initiate eviction proceedings against a tenant, Nevada has no statute governing whether or not they can recoup attorneys fees. They can, however, charge the tenant for the period of time during which the rental property is unrented. Nevada expects that the landlord will make some attempt to mitigate damages to the tenant. This includes attempting to re-rent the property (NRS 118.175).
There is no statute governing how much notice either party must give the other when terminating a lease that has a fixed end date.
If the lease is month-to-month, then either party has 30 days to terminate a lease. If a lease is week-to-week, either party has seven days to terminate the lease.
If the tenant had initially signed a lease with a fixed end date, the landlord can either issue a new lease or the tenancy is assumed to be month-to-month.
Tenants are entitled to their privacy. Therefore, a landlord must give a tenant 24 hours notice before entering the property even to conduct repairs. There is one exception to this rule, which is emergency situations. In an emergency, a landlord may access the property without notice (NRS 118A.330).
In certain instances, the State of Nevada requires landlords to disclose potentially sensitive information to tenants.
Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against a tenant who files a good faith complaint against them. Forms of retaliation can include:
- Initiating an eviction;
- Unwillingness to renew a lease;
- Increasing the rent;
- Decreasing or limiting access to services (NRS 118A.510).
If the tenant brings an action against a landlord for retaliation, the burden of proof is on the landlord to justify their action to the court if:
- The tenant has recently filed a good-faith complaint against the landlord with a government agency,
- Or the tenant has recently joined or organized a tenant union.
In other words, if the tenant exercises their rights, and the landlord takes action against them, then the court will assume that the landlord has acted in retaliation against the tenant.
A tenant has an inalienable right as an American to display an American flag on the rental property (NRS 118A.325, NRS 118A.200). A landlord may neither prohibit nor retaliate against a tenant who displays an American flag.
While Nevada has no statewide statute requiring landlords to have business licenses, individual cities and counties might. Landlords should check with their cities and counties to ensure compliance with local laws.
This blog entry is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Landlords and Tenants are encouraged to seek specific legal advice for any of the issues as found in this blog.