LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The end of the eviction moratorium is near. That means lockouts could be soon to follow and at an alarming rate.
13 Investigates has been researching renters' rights and what actions you need to take right now to keep a roof over your family's head.
"I feel a lot of anxiety and it's actually what I'm dealing with right now, a lot of anxiety," says Nicole Rowe. "I feel like I'm in limbo."
Nicole is a mother of five kids. The pandemic had an immediate impact on Nicole's family.
"I worked in childcare. So, the childcares were one of the first things to shut down," Nicole explains.
Savings kept her family current on rent until Christmas last year, but she's still waiting on unemployment checks to catch up.
"Right now, I would say I'm about four months, four months behind."
As more and more people get back to work, she's still waiting.
"With the daycares, they're not full staff yet. They're not going back to full staff. And I was a supervisor," says Nicole. "So, my position, of course, pays more. So, I haven't been able to find anywhere to be hired on permanently."
Nicole applied for financial help through the Cares Act Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) in March. We first met her in May when she told us she hadn't yet heard about her status. We checked in with her again in mid-July.
"Standstill, nothing's changed," she says. "No updates. It just says, 'waiting to be assigned to a caseworker.'"
Based on what we've learned, it appears Nicole is doing everything she's supposed to like checking her CHAP account online.
"Oh, daily, Daily, Weekly. Just logging in to see if there's been any change, any updates."
And keeping in close contact with her landlord.
"I'm checking in with him almost biweekly, weekly if I can."
Her landlord, too, is checking on CHAP.
"I've emailed my landlord. My landlord has emailed and tried to reach out to them through his own resources and still no follow-up," says Nicole.
Because Nicole and her landlord are working together, she's not facing eviction as of now.
"But it's a lot of anxiety not knowing from day to day what's going on or what's going to happen next or what to do from here on out," says Nicole.
"Everyone is vulnerable to the evictions," says Heidi Foreman-Toney of Nevada Legal Services. She says anyone behind on rent needs to take action.
"I can't tell you the number of times I sat in front of a client, and they tell me, 'I will die if I am evicted,'" Heidi explains.
Reaching out for help before it's too late is step one.
"They want to stay a step ahead on the entire process," says Heidi. "Make contact with our office before they get that 24-hour lockout notice on their door from the Constable."
Here are some key points renters need to know:
- The soon-to-expire federal moratorium applies only to lock-outs for non-payment of rent, although landlords can still file eviction paperwork to start the process.
- You can be evicted for other reasons like nuisance causes.
- Apply for CHAP if you haven't already done so. If you have applied but didn't upload documents, you will not be assigned a caseworker.
- This is a big one we're being told many renters are not understanding: Do NOT ignore eviction notices. You must respond by filing an answer to each notice with the court or you will be evicted by default.
- You must also have your CDC declaration complete.
"We're reaching the end here but as you know, we do have some additional protections in place with the Assembly Bill 486," says Heidi. "People who have rental assistance applications pending, those will also provide a little bit of a buffer for people to get caught up on their rent and to keep themselves housed with their families."
The key point there is a little bit of a buffer.
While AB 486 is said to create a "glide path" for renters facing eviction, the last hold on constables locking out tenants is coming to an end.
We can't stress enough how important it is for renters to take action. Even with protections in place, you can still be evicted.
Refer to these links below for more information: