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April 9, 2020

Public News Service

Renters in the U.S. tend to have lower incomes and less stable jobs than homeowners, creating greater anxiety for them during the current health crisis.

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LAS VEGAS -- Renters in the U.S. tend to have lower incomes and less stable jobs than homeowners, creating greater anxiety for them during the current health crisis.

But there are resources to help.

Lauren Peña, an attorney with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, helped author a toolkit for renters, which explains their legal rights. specifically regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

She says the governor's emergency housing directive suspends most evictions and covers those who lease single family homes and any other rentals.

"That applies to people living in weeklies, that applies to people living in apartments, and this suspension is going to last until the state of emergency is lifted by the governor," she points out.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread layoffs and other financial hardships. New data from the National Multifamily Housing Council shows that one-third of Americans did not pay April rent before the due date.

The governor's directive does not order rent forgiveness by property owners, but if you already know you can't pay the rent on May 1, Peña encourages you to contact the landlord as soon as possible.

"Show them that you've lost your job, that you hope to be rehired in X amount of time, work out a payment plan -- if there's a plan that will work for you, partial payments, but make sure that everything is in writing," she urges.

Peña adds that renters also should be aware that the governor's order has suspended all late fees during the current emergency.

"Let's say that you can only pay half of your rent this month," she explains. "Well, your landlord can't say, 'Oh, but you owe me half and then you'll owe me another 5% for being late this month.' No, that shouldn't go into the calculation."

Previous studies have shown that at least 45% of renters say they do not have enough in a savings account to cover a single month's rent payment.