CARSON CITY — With the end of the state’s moratorium looming, Nevada lawmakers unveiled a bill Thursday aimed at helping renters who are facing eviction when it expires.
Assembly Bill 486 would require courts to temporarily pause evictions for nonpayment if the renter has applied and has pending rental assistance. If the landlord has refused to accept rental assistance on behalf of the tenant, the court would be required to dismiss the eviction process and the renter can sue for wrongful eviction.
The bill comes with less than two weeks left in the legislative session, one in which other major eviction restriction measures faltered. But advocates see this as a key piece to helping renters navigate the process once the moratorium is lifted.
“This is the answer,” said Bailey Bortolin, policy director at Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers. “I think everything in this bill is an answer to any question or any hiccup that we’ve seen or that any side of the issue has vocalized over the last year.”
Gov. Steve Sisolak signaled his support for the measure.
“This proposed legislation will help ensure federal rental assistance makes its way to the tenants and landlords who need it and will also provide an opportunity for eligible small landlords to apply for and access rental assistance directly,” Sisolak said in a statement
Nevada’s eviction moratorium expires on May 31, and the federal eviction pause is scheduled to lift on June 30.
The bill, Bortolin said, would allow the eviction moratoriums to be lifted “in a safe and careful way.”
Bortolin stressed that while the bill does offer significant protections, the burden remains on the renters to take action in the eviction process.
“This bill is giving you a tool, but it’s on you to understand and utilize the tool and understand how it works,” Bortolin said.
Under the bill, if a landlord tries to evict a renter who defaulted on their payment, but the landlord did receive rental assistance for the renter, the tenant or the government body that provided the assistance can sue for fraudulent evictions. That could lead to the landlord facing a civil penalty, being forced to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees.
It also would require landlords to include information about rental assistance programs and protections under the bill to any tenant they are trying to evict.
The bill, if passed would go into effect on July 1, 2021, the day after the federal eviction moratorium ends.