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Nevada lawmakers look to expand renters' legal protections

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Alex Gonzalez

(Nevada News Service) The Nevada Housing Justice Alliance, tenants, lawmakers and community leaders gathered at a news conference outside the Capitol in Carson City this week to rally for legislation to expand legal protections for renters and increase rent control.

According to lawmakers, Nevada rent prices soared above the rest of the country last year. They said access to affordable housing is a top issue facing families.

Assmeblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong, D-Las Vegas, said her bill, Assembly Bill 340, intends to change the summary eviction process. Currently in order to challenge an eviction in Nevada, tenants must make the first court filing. She said changing this would allow renters a chance to defend themselves.

"Something must be done," she said. "We cannot move forward another legislative session pretending like we don't have a crisis. We have a crisis."

Summers-Armstrong said her bill aims to change the procedure so that landlords would first have to go to court to have a tenant evicted, and provide them with plenty of notice to answer the complaint. She said it creates a more "fair legal process."

There are a number of bills that aim to provide solutions to what some see as an afforable housing crisis. Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, said her bill, Senate Bill 363, prioritizes housing for women veterans, women who were formerly incarcerated, those recovering from domestic violence - and senior women who are housing insecure. 

"They are four times more likely to not have a place to stay than their peers," she said. "As a matter of fact, those four groups are the highest, the fastest-growing, homeless groups in the United States."

Spearman and other lawmakers are pushing for legislation to keep some of the state's lowest-income residents housed, while also aiming to prevent an eviction crisis as federal dollars distributed for rental assistance during the pandemic are set to expire.