Nevada tenants struggling to pay rent got a last minute reprieve Monday when Gov. Steve Sisolak announced he would extend the state’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium another 45 days.
Sisolak said the state needed more time to help struggling residents and create a mediation process so that landlords and tenants could settle eviction proceedings out of court.
The extension will also allow the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to clear a significant backlog of unemployment insurance claims that has been growing since the pandemic began.
“We do not want Nevadans getting evicted while awaiting a determination of their case,” Sisolak said.
He also announced an additional $10 million for the state’s emergency housing aid program, which pays back rent for Nevadans who lost income as a result of the pandemic.
“I know our local governments are working hard to get these funds out the door to landlords to keep qualified tenants in their homes,” he said.
In Clark County, the CARES Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) stopped accepting new applications after it determined the need had already maxed out the program’s budget.
Meanwhile, California lawmakers also extended the state’s eviction moratorium until the end of the year for renters impacted by the pandemic.
Nevada’s eviction ban was originally set to expire this week. Housing advocates have been warning the ban’s expiration would cause a tidal wave of evictions. In July, the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities predicted more than 250,000 Nevadans would be at risk.
Bailey Bortolin, Policy Director for the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers, says Nevada narrowly avoided a new wave of homelessness, because the original deadline didn’t give courts enough time to establish mediation procedures.
“What we would have seen is the eviction process triage the most vulnerable people to the front of the eviction line,” she said. “Those people would have become homeless.”
During the second special session of the Nevada State Legislature in July, lawmakers approved Senate Bill 1, which created a 30-day stay in eviction proceedings so landlords and tenants can settle out of court.
Nevada Supreme Court Justice Jim Hardesty argued in favor of the bill. He told senators the judicial system could be overwhelmed when the eviction moratorium expired.
“We would be facing an increase in the court’s caseload for evictions, particularly associated with the nonpayment of rent, by three times as much as what we would normally see in an entire year,” he said.
But according to Susy Vasquez, executive director of the Nevada State Apartment Association, court-mandated mediation wouldn’t do much.
She says that’s because most landlords have already made arrangements with tenants who are behind on rent.
“That mediation has already occurred at this point,” she told CapRadio. “We’ve entered into an agreement and if they are defaulting on that agreement, I don’t know how much more mediation can help in those instances.”
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