Cost of Rent: Recent data from UNLV stated that in southern Nevada, “7 of the 10 most common occupations do not earn the income needed to afford rent for a studio apartment” while in Reno “6 of the 10 most common occupations do not earn the income needed to afford rent for a studio apartment.”
While the state’s minimum wage is set to increase however wages still are not rising fast enough to support rising rents. In some metropolitan areas one must earn more than $50,000 a year to afford a one bedroom apartment. In a 2020 study, researchers at the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that “a $100 increase in median rent was associated with a 9% increase in the estimated homelessness rate.”
Applications, Deposits, & Fees: Tenants need to get their security deposits back in a timely manner in order to secure new housing. There needs to be clear standards for what can be taken out of a security deposit and what can be charged for cleaning. We also often hear stories of tenants who in the process of finding an apartment, pay multiple application fees, sometimes upwards of $100, eating away into their budgets.
Criminal Background: Currently in Nevada, landlords can refuse to rent homes to anyone who has ever been arrested or convicted—no matter how minor the offense or how long ago it occurred. Using conviction records is not actually a useful way to determine a person’s trustworthiness or how good of a tenant they may be, and it only entrenches the structural inequities in the criminal justice system that have unjust and disproportionate effects on Black communities. The notion that denying people housing will increase safety is misguided, when ultimately the inability to meet economic needs is a key driver of violence. And fair chance housing impacts more than just those with convictions--it impacts entire families. Nearly half of the children in the United States have at least one parent with a criminal record. Reducing the barriers to stable housing is a step forward to interrupting the intergenerational cycle of homelessnessand poverty and improving neighborhood safety for everyone.
Source of Income: Renters who are reliant on housing-choice vouchers, rental assistance, disability income or other benefits may currently be denied housing based on their legal source of income. Adding source of income as a protected class into our state’s fair housing law will protect vulnerable populations from housing instability and homelessness by removing discriminatory barriers to housing. Identifying landlords who accept these forms of income has become an extraordinarily burdensome and costly task for homeless service organizations and local governments. With protection for the Nevadans under the law, these organizations will be able to more effectively direct scarce funding and manpower to providing essential services.
Summary Evictions: Nevada's eviction procedures are among the fastest in the country. Summary evictions are an expedited process to evict tenants, which leaves renters with very little time to defend themselves in court. In fact, with a summary eviction the person being threatened with eviction must initiate the court case, a process that is unique to the state of Nevada. Families who are summarily evicted do not have due process or the opportunity to defend themselves in court.
No Cause Evictions: Nevada law also allows landlords to evict renters for “no cause,” or no fault of the tenant. The law requires landlords provide a 30 day notice to a tenant who pays monthly or 7 days to a tenant who pays weekly. This is not enough time to find a new place to live in today’s market. Many other states have sought to limit these types of evictions, as they can be used to cover discrimination as well as lead to housing insecurity. During the pandemic, landlords used no-cause eviction as a loophole to get around emergency protections prohibiting nonpayment of rent evictions for those who have been impacted by the crisis.