On Sunday evening, Gov. Steve Sisolak issued one of his widest-ranging emergency directives yet — suspending all evictions and foreclosures in the state.
The move, coming days after a record-breaking 93,000 Nevadans filed for unemployment, was applauded by housing rights activists and met with a slightly more tepid response from state trade groups representing real estate agents and apartment associations.
In one fell swoop, the directive replaced a patchwork network of decisions in some, but not all, judicial courts around the state to temporarily halt the processing of eviction orders, instead making a clear, statewide mandate prohibiting evictions or foreclosures as long as Nevada remains in a “state of emergency” to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This directive is intended to keep people in their homes at a time when we are encouraging all Nevadans to stay at home,” Sisolak said on Sunday. “This is not the time to put people out on the streets. This is also not the time to evict small business owners who have been hit hard by the economic fallout of this pandemic.”
Nevada isn’t the only state to order an eviction moratorium; New York, California, Washington and several individual municipalities have also issued orders prohibiting evictions or foreclosures while the nation grapples with the COVID-19 outbreak.
But the announcement of Nevada’s eviction pause has created a lot of questions for landlords, lenders, tenants and borrowers alike. Below, we’ve provided answers for several of the more common questions.
Does this mean I don’t have to pay rent/make mortgage payments?
No. The directive signed by the governor explicitly says that it should not be “construed as relieving any party of their contractual obligations to pay rent, make mortgage payments, or comply with any other obligations imposed on parties by a lease, rental agreement, or mortgage.”
The state is also maintaining a list of major national and local mortgage lenders, with summaries of assistance that they are offering to customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as contact information.
I own a small business. Does this apply to me?
Yes. The language in the order states that all of its provisions apply to both “residential or commercial real estate.”
“These rules also apply to small businesses,” a guidance issued by the state says. “Landlords should neither evict nor begin the process of eviction while Nevada is under this state of emergency.”
Can I be charged a late fee if I don’t pay rent/mortgage on time?
No. The emergency order explicitly forbids landlords and lenders from “charging any late fees or penalties” for nonpayment as a result of the pandemic. It covers any payments owed between the state of emergency being declared and whenever the directive expires or is rescinded by the governor.
If I’m a tenant, and something in my house/apartment breaks, who is on the hook to pay for it?
It depends on the terms of the rental agreement. If a landlord would normally be responsible for any repairs, he or she would still need to comply with any obligation in a lease agreement.
“For example, if a pipe bursts in your home through no fault of your own, and if your landlord is responsible for the repair under your lease agreement, your landlord must fix that pipe,” the state said in an official guidance.
If I’m a landlord, do I have any ability to evict a tenant?
For the most part, no, unless a tenant is shown to “seriously endanger the public or other residents, engage in criminal activity, or cause significant damage to the property.”
The emergency order also explicitly notes that landlords cannot evict anyone on the basis of them being diagnosed with COVID-19, or having been potentially exposed to the virus.
Landlords and lenders are also prohibited from changing locks or putting notices on tenants doors that threaten eviction.
I live in a weekly. Do these protections apply to me?
Yes. Although weekly apartments or extended stay hotels are not specifically mentioned in the order, the emergency order nonetheless suspends the legal process used to carry out evictions typically used for weekly rental apartments.
On Tuesday morning, Sisolak's office issued an updated guidance and stated unequivocally that the eviction protections "applies to those residing in extended stay motels and weekly rentals."
What if my landlord is trying to evict me, or threatened to do so?
If you believe your landlord is violating any portion of the directive by processing an eviction, you can file an online complaint with the Nevada attorney general’s office, or call a special hotline maintained by the office; 888-434-9989.
Additionally, various legal aid organizations in the state may be able to provide assistance. These include:
Nevada Legal Services: Check website for individual office phone numbers
What if I already have eviction proceedings filed in a court?
The directive applies to any pending eviction proceedings, unless previously filed evictions were initiated because the tenant posed a danger to other tenants, the public, committed criminal activity or engaged in property damage. Again, an eviction is not allowed if the tenant is self-isolating because of a COVID-19 diagnosis or if he or she works in the health care field.
The order does not count if the eviction or foreclosure proceeding began before March 12, when the initial state of emergency was declared.
When will rent be owed?
Per the emergency order, any rent or payments are due after the governor terminates the state of emergency order that was declared on March 12.
The order encourages borrowers, lenders, tenants and landlords to “negotiate payment plans or other agreements within 30 days of the termination of this Directive” to allow borrowers and tenants the ability to “cure any defaults or missing payments” caused by financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Updated at 8:47 a.m. to include new information on weekly-stay hotels.