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Landlord woes: Tenant trashes home after not paying rent

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Posted at 7:22 PM, Mar 12, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — After a bad experience with a renter, property owner Michelle Stiles has concerns about the Las Vegas housing market and how the current eviction moratorium will impact landlords in the long run.

Last year, Michelle rented a home in the northwest area of Las Vegas out to a tenant who proved she was employed and had more than $24,000 in the bank. As soon as Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered the eviction moratorium in Nevada, her tenant stopped paying all rent and utilities. Michelle says she waited about five months for assistance from the government.

“I didn’t see any rent for quite some time and then the CARES Act came into play, so basically I had to manage without until August when finally the CARES money came through,” Stiles said.

The tenant’s lease was not renewed, but left the home with thousands of dollars worth of damage when she moved out. The tenant left holes on almost every door in the house, ripped out cabinets, flooded and stained the carpets, left cigarette butts, moldy food, and piles of trash everywhere.

“There’s really no repercussion. What am I going to do? There’s nothing I can do. I can’t go to small claims court. Do I think the time and energy is going to get me anywhere? I don’t,” Stiles said.

Stiles wonders how many renters may be taking advantage of the eviction protections and how many landlords will suffer as a result. She is concerned that a perceived lack of protections for landlords will cut them out of the housing market entirely, leaving less homes for rent.

“I don’t think landlords are this evil entity that maybe people think they are. They are real people too, just trying to make it, get ahead, and this is where they chose to invest,” Stiles added.

Jim Berthold is directing attorney for the Consumer Rights Project at Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. He says the guidelines for eviction protections have changed so much over the last year, it’s difficult for both tenants and landlords to know their rights.

“If there’s an issue with a tenant, like the tenant is causing damage on the property or the tenant is really not entitled to those protections, the landlord has been able to proceed with an eviction. Landlords and tenants just don’t know enough about the protections in place to know what their rights are,” Berchtold added.

He first suggests working together to get a piece of the CARES Act funding.

“There is still a huge pot of rental assistance money that is waiting to be distributed,” Berchtold said.

If a landlord can prove a tenant is claiming eviction protections fraudulently, Berchtold says you may have to take it to court, but you don’t need to hire a lawyer. He suggests visiting the self-help center in the courthouse to find all the eviction documents.

“If a landlord has evidence that a tenant is claiming those protections and really not entitled to them, the landlord can still go ahead with an eviction and challenge that in court and ask the judge to make a determination,” Berchtold said.

This article was written by Kelsey McFarland for KTNV.