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How Renters Can Get Help During The Coronavirus Shutdown

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An emergency order by Governor Steve Sisolak does not give apartment tenants the right to live rent-free - if they've lost or have been furloughed from their jobs.

But what it does do is temporarily freeze eviction proceedings involving apartments and commercial properties.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

It also allows tenants to work with their landlords to delay rent payments until they return to work after the governor lifts his stay at home order.

There are exemptions for people who pose a threat to others.

It also bars late fees or penalties for nonpayment during the coronavirus outbreak.

David Olshan is the director of litigation for Nevada Legal Services. He said people have to remember the order does not mean they won't pay rent. It means they will have to pay eventually.

He said a similar problem happens during the holiday season.

“It’s kind of like Christmas and at Christmas at the Tenant’s Rights Center what we often see is people who buy presents and they don’t worry about January’s rent," he said, "So when January comes around, they don’t have the money to pay the rent because they celebrated Christmas.”

He believes when the emergency order is lifted there are going to be a lot of evictions.

Olshan also pointed out that the order does apply to weekly rentals. Originally, landlords of weekly rentals claimed renters were not tenants and the governor's order didn't apply.

But the order was revised to make it clear they are covered.

While landlords can't evict someone, Olshan said Legal Services does get complaints from people about landlords cutting off services like WIFI to get tenants to leave on their own.

He said landlords must provide essential services to rental units, and if they don't, tenants can sue to get the services returned.

Michael Robinson is a broker and owner of Robinson Realty Management. He helps homeowners manage rental properties. 

He said landlords understand and sympathize with renters but they do have bills to pay as well.

“While this is an investment vehicle, but they do require the rent. They do have bills. They do have mortgages,” he said.

He advises people to talk to their landlord about getting a discount on rent -if needed - but he said renters really should think about paying.

“I think the tenants really have to look hard and find out: do they have the opportunity to pay because it is going to become due and payable,” he said.

Mortgage forbearance is available for some owners but they are reluctant to use it because no one is exactly sure what it will mean for their credit report.

Michael Robinson, broker and owner, Robinson Realty and Management; David Olshan, director of litigation, Nevada Legal Services

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(Editor's note: Chris Sieroty no longer works for Nevada Public Radio)