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CONTACT 13: Renters' rights for victims of violent crimes

Posted: 11:00 PM, Sep 22, 2016
Updated: 2018-11-21 17:35:04-05

A valley woman is attacked right outside her own apartment. Now she doesn't feel safe and wants out of her lease. But when she went to management, they said no way. So she reached out to Contact 13, and we delivered results.

"I was coming home late at night and somebody came from behind me with a hammer, knocked me out. Knocked my glasses in pieces," says Jennifer Robinson.
 
She says it's an image that keeps her up at night. It all happened last month, at the Meadow Vista Apartments, near Vegas Valley Drive and South Lamb Boulevard.
 
"I have scars and scrapes," says Jennifer.
 
She says a man and woman ran off with her purse, which had her car keys, cell phone and wallet inside.
 
"They cleaned me out. They went to Walmart and swiped, bought stuff. They did a lot of things with it that night," says Jennifer.
 
She filed this police report after the robbery. Jennifer stayed with a friend that night, afraid to be at home by herself. But the next morning, more bad news.
 
"My vehicle was gone," says Jennifer.
 
Then a few days later someone left this note on Jennifer's apartment door. That's when she approached management about moving. But with just 3 months left on her lease, she was told no.
 
"I could end up dead. Yeah. They don't care. It's all about them making their money. That's how I feel," says Jennifer.
 
So Jennifer reached out to Contact 13. But we learned unfortunately, the law isn't on her side. 
 
"There really is no way out of the lease being the victim of a crime, and that's because the landlord isn't necessarily responsible for the actions of a third party," says Attorney Lauren Pena with the Civil Law Self Help Center.
 
She says your rental lease, is a contract. Even if you're the victim of a violent crime, there's no Nevada law that says a landlord has to release you from your agreement. But there is one exception.
 
"Someone who's been the victim of domestic violence can terminate a lease," says Lauren.
 
So Meadow Vista Apartments doesn't have to let Jennifer out of her lease. But after giving them a call, we learned they changed their mind. Management says they're letting Jennifer off the hook, but they had no other comment. Jennifer says she's surprised.
 
"I thought they were going to say no. But apparently they went to their corporate, and corporate said whatever she wants," says Jennifer.
 
Now it's just a matter of finding a new place.
 
"I got my boxes. I'm ready to just put things in boxes and go," says Jennifer.
 
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line: Before you move into any rental property, do your homework. Crime maps are available online for neighborhoods across the valley. And if you're the victim of a crime, try asking to be moved to a different apartment or property, if available. 
 
If you're having issues with a landlord, let us know about it. Email us at 13investigates@ktnv.com.
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