Advocates float rent stabilization for seniors, compensation for no-cause evictions

By: - July 22, 2022 5:54 am

A Nevada Housing Coalition forum in Reno. The coalition is preparing proposals to push in next year’s legislative session. (Photo courtesy of Nevada Housing Coalition).

Gathering from her experience of living in New York, a senior advocate proposes rent stabilization as a possible method for controlling sudden rent increase in Nevada, specifically for older members of the community. 

That was among several policy concepts being proposed and discussed in a policy forums held in Reno and Las Vegas this summer by the Nevada Housing Coalition, according to forum participants. The coalition is a statewide nonprofit that promotes affordable housing for Nevadans through advocacy, education and collaboration.  

As an ex-New Yorker, Marsy Kupfersmith, who is also a part of the policy committee of the Nevada Housing Coalition, suggested rent stabilization for Nevada seniors, a concept that has been prevalent in New York since 1969. 

As explained to the Current by Kupfersmith, senior tenants in Nevada would have a multi-year lease effectively for two to three years which would operate with a built-in increase. 

Being aware of the increases would give the seniors an opportunity to “budget” themselves, Kupfersmith said. The tenant would also have enough time to move out of the apartment if the rent would not seem affordable to them in the long run. 

A senior herself, Kupfersmith said in Nevada, “every ten months, seniors get nervous about what their situation is going to be.” She expressed concern that it becomes even more challenging for a senior to worry about additional costs, like a security deposit and costs of relocation, to that of the first-month rent every time the person moves. 

Rent stabilization can be especially beneficial for retired seniors with middle – but fixed – incomes who don’t qualify for rental assistance programs, she added. 

The proposal is directed more towards retired and fixed-income seniors rather than low-income ones. However, she was not opposed to the idea of rent stabilization being implemented in Nevada for all renters, regardless of their age.

The Culinary union is pushing a ballot initiative to stabilize rent by capping increases

The initiative only applies to North Las Vegas, but Gov. Steve Sisolak, speaking last month in support of the Culinary’s efforts, said “we’re going to be addressing this in the session” of the state Legislature when it meets next year. 

Kupfersmith said rent stabilization also benefits landlords. 

“They do not have to worry about upgrading the units every time a person moves,” Kupfersmith said. She felt this was more amenable if it did not require legislative sanction. The increase in rent, according to her, could be set by the landlord themselves. 

The apartment industry in Nevada has bristled at efforts to regulate or cap rents.

Since the Nevada Legislature meets every two years, Kupfersmith has ideas of incentivizing the landlords through the respective cities or some other kind of funding. She cited a New York example, in which landlords were provided local tax abatements.

Rent stabilization targeting seniors is an idea that was well received by participants at the forum, said Christine Hess, the Nevada Housing Coalition’s executive director.

Paying displaced tenants

Another proposal that intrigues coalition members, Hess said,  is a displacement or relocation policy modeled after an ordinance in Portland, Oregon. If a tenant is displaced for no fault of their own, the landlord must compensate the tenant for their moving costs.

Under the Portland program, such mandatory relocation assistance payments range from $2,900 for tenants in a studio apartment to $4,500 for those being displaced from a property with three or more bedrooms. 

Hess said the policy would engage landlords to be a part of the solution, instead of the burden falling entirely on social services of local governments and nonprofits. 

“We can see if the policy committee wants to consider it and Nevada-ize the Oregon ordinance,” Hess said. 

The coalition is preparing a report analyzing senior rent stabilization, renter relocation and other proposals. The report will help the group finalize priorities the coalition will push with state legislators, Hess said. 

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Kingkini Sengupta
Kingkini Sengupta

Kingkini Sengupta writes for the Current as a Summer 2022 States Newsroom Fellow. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree with the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. A former broadcast producer, she has a newfound love of reporting and writing. She has a Diploma in Social Communications Media from SCMSophia, University of Mumbai, India and has also done her Bachelor's in English Honours from University of Calcutta, India. She has also worked for six and half years with two Indian news channels: New Delhi Television (NDTV) and Republic TV. Kingkini loves traveling, experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen and playing with dogs. She uses food to bond with people she does not know. Someday besides being a successful multimedia journalist, she would love to open her own Indian restaurant and chai cafe in the United States.