2019 was certainly an eventful legislative session for Nevada! A number of bills were introduced, seeking to have a direct impact on the residential landlord/tenant and property management industries, not the least of which was Senate Bill 256 (SB256).
SB256, in its original form, would have brought sweeping changes to Nevada Landlord/Tenant law. The bill sought to protect ‘source of income’ discrimination in housing – ending the practice by some landlords and property managers to refuse to rent to ‘Section 8’ recipients. It would have prevented landlords of ‘low income’ housing from considering a tenant’s past inability to pay rent as a qualifying factor for tenancy. Further, it would have granted rights to tenants for “initial inspection” of a dwelling unit before vacating, and would have required landlords to provide a written summary of possible charges against the tenant’s security deposit, among other changes. SB256 died on the Assembly side, thanks to the strong lobbying efforts of the Nevada Association of REALTORS.
Although SB256 did not make it to the Governor’s desk, parts of that bill snuck in just under the wire, and became law. This was due to a last-minute amendment to SB151. When I say “last minute,” I’m not kidding. The very last day of the legislative session brought additional landlord/tenant provisions to SB151, which became law when signed by the Governor, and takes effect on July 1, 2019.
SB151 affects our industry in a number of ways. First, it clearly delineates a difference between the procedure for eviction of a commercial tenant vs. eviction of a residential tenant, for nonpayment of rent. Commercial tenants continue to be subject to a 5-day “summary eviction” for nonpayment of rent. Residential tenants, on the other hand, are now subject to a 7-day (7 “judicial” days) “pay or quit” action. Once the court orders the eviction action, the sheriff or constable must remove the residential tenant no earlier than 24 hours after the order is posted, and no later than 36 hours after the court order for removal is posted.
If a residential tenant leaves personal property in the residence after vacating, under SB151, that tenant has 5 days to retrieve “essential personal effects.” Further, the tenant may file a motion (within 20 days) to contest the reasonableness of the landlord’s actions in storage of the property; both the daily storage costs, and the removal procedure used by the landlord. The court must hold a hearing within 10 days of the tenant’s motion, and may award the tenant the ability to retrieve “essential personal effects,” even after an initial 5-day period following removal of the tenant. Further, the court may award the tenant damages up to $2,500, if the court finds the landlord acted improperly in handling the tenant’s personal property.
For commercial tenancies, the landlord will have no liability for disposing of a tenant’s personal property after the tenant vacates (or is removed), provided the landlord gave a minimum of 14 days’ notice to the tenant via Certified USPS mail.
SB151 also provides that eviction records are automatically sealed by the court if the landlord fails to pursue the action through to a court order for removal of the tenant.
Thanks to a ‘friendly amendment’ from the Nevada Association of REALTORS, a tenant retains all rights and responsibilities under a residential lease when the property is sold in a ‘traditional’ (non-foreclosure) method. Conversely, the new owner of the property is bound to the landlord’s terms under that agreement, a welcome clarification of existing law contained in SB151.
All eviction notices must be served by a sheriff, constable, or licensed process server! Due to circumstances of improper service described during hearings for SB151, the final version of the bill provides that all such notices be served by someone licensed to serve notices in Nevada. The landlord may no longer serve these notices him/herself.
SB151 adds new section to NRS 118A (Nevada’s Residential Landlord/Tenant Act) that defines the term “Periodic Rent.”That definition clearly states that “rent” means only the amount that is payable each month, and nothing more. Presumably, this provision of the bill seeks to omit late charges and tenant repair chargebacks from the definition of “rent.”
Speaking of late fees,this may be the biggest change to residential landlord/tenant law: SB151 limits late fees significantly. Late fees now may not exceed 5% of the periodic rent (not 5% of the balance then due). Daily (cumulative) late fees are now a thing of the past.
All sections of SB151 become effective July 1, 2019.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post, where we’ll take a look at other 2019 changes to Nevada law affecting the property management industry.