Apartment lobby opposes bill after praising it on TV

TV
VegasPBS Nevada Week host Kipp Ortenburger and Suzy Vasquez, executive director of the Nevada Apartment Association, in an April 23 Nevada week broadcast. (VegasPBS screengrab).
TV
VegasPBS Nevada Week host Kipp Ortenburger and Suzy Vasquez, executive director of the Nevada Apartment Association, in an April 23 Nevada week broadcast. (VegasPBS screengrab).

They were against it before they were for it before they were against it.

At a Friday state Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for a proposal to automatically seal pandemic-related evictions, the Nevada State Apartment Association testified in opposition to the legislation, despite earlier public comments in support of the bill.  

During an appearance on PBS’s Nevada Week that aired April 23 Susy Vasquez, the executive director of the association, was asked what potential solutions were available if the feared wave of evictions hits when Gov. Steve Sisolak’s moratorium expires at the end of May. 

She pointed to Assemblyman Howard Watts’s legislation, Assembly Bill 141, which would  automatically seal records of summary evictions for nonpayment of rent that happened during the pandemic, as a way to provide relief. The association had originally testified against the bill.

“Obviously we’re going to be well aware that people will have evictions on their record,” she said. “We’re hoping that AB 141, with the sealing of the eviction, will go through and offer some relief to many.” 

Vasquez also told Nevada Week she believed the market would adjust to meet the rise in evictions. 

AB 141, which passed in a party line vote in the Assembly April 19, is among several bills this session looking to bolster tenant protections. The legislation, Watts said, would provide some protections to vulnerable tenants who were impacted economically during the pandemic. 

At Friday’s hearing, Vasquez again testified in opposition, and said she was working with Watts to address remaining concerns about the bill, but didn’t specify what they were. 

In addition to sealing evictions, the original bill had a section lengthening the notification period for no-cause evictions. Tenants residing in a property for one to three years would receive a 60-day notice rather than 30 days, while those renting longer than three years would get a 90-day notice. Those original provisions have been amended out of the legislation.

While many housing justice organizations supported the bill, some said they were hoping the original version would have survived. 

“Nevadans for the Common Good supports passage of AB 141. We are, however, disappointed with the changes in the bill since its introduction,” wrote Barbara Paulsen, a representative with the organization. “AB 141 in its current form does not have the capacity to provide help to as many individuals and families in need as the original bill.”

Watts said in addition to helping those housing insecure people, the bill would potentially provide relief for the courts.

“Our court system has a backlog of legal action in a variety of areas that needs to be addressed,” Watts said.” He added that it’s not not only eviction proceedings “but then creating additional work for the courts to seal evictions for those that were economically impacted by the pandemic doesn’t make sense when there is a more efficient and compassionate option. That’s what AB 141 delivers.”

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.