Tenants’ rights legislation dies under pressure from Realtors

By: - May 20, 2019 3:13 pm
we've let housing economics get so weird

Kent Weakley, Getty Images

we've let housing economics get so weird
Kent Weakley, Getty Images

A bill designed to enhance the rights of tenants in Nevada but labeled a “slap in the face” by Realtors, will not move forward.

Senate Bill 256 was designed to ease the burden for renters, who make up almost half of all Nevadans.  But opponents said it would have driven landlords out of the business, forced them to sell their properties and further reduced the supply of affordable housing.  

Supporters say the lack of low-income and affordable housing in Nevada enables some landlords to gouge tenants, assess unreasonable late fees, and perpetuate a cycle that sometimes results in homelessness.

The bill would have required landlords to return security deposits within three weeks or less.  The law currently gives landlords 30 days to return deposits.

It would have also prevented landlords from applying rent payment to fees, thereby leaving rent unpaid and tenants subject to eviction.

The measure failed to get the requisite second hearing before a committee by May 17.

Two Democrats, Marilyn Dondero Loop and Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, previously joined Republicans in voting against the bill in a Senate committee, where it narrowly passed by an 11-10 vote.

“I think legislators were as concerned as we were,” said Keith Lynam, the president of Nevada Realtors.  But he expects renters rights’ to surface in future sessions.

“I’ve been involved in real estate for 20 years and until they (renters’ rights advocates) want to discuss the solution, we’ll probably be talking about it for another 20 years,” Lynam said in an interview.  

Lynam, who proposed an exemption on behalf of Realtors for properties with fewer than four units, says legislative efforts thus far have encompassed single-family home landlords while apartment complexes are to blame for the bulk of abusive practices.

“They (proponents) said it’s illogical to exclude single-family homes,” Lynam said. “I’d like to hear the logic behind throwing a net around it when it’s only one percent that are a problem.”

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Yvanna Cancela (D-Las Vegas) had the support of Legal Aid Services of Southern Nevada.  Cancela did not respond to our request for comment.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.