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Las Vegas renters facing eviction may have fewer days to respond to notices

Las Vegas Justice Court to be open Fridays
Posted at 4:39 PM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 03:24:54-04

LAS VEGAS, NV (KTNV) — A new court order issued in Las Vegas could mean renters have less time when facing eviction. This comes as the final moratorium on lockouts is set to expire after July 31.

Administrative Order 21-08 from the Las Vegas Justice Court was signed on Tuesday. It says the court will now be open Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. effective immediately.

Since July 2020, the court was closed on Friday as part of a cost-saving measure due to the pandemic.

Nevada Legal Services says the timing of this order is disappointing and "...was issued with virtually no warning." They fear some residents could become homeless on a filing technicality.

That's because the order changes how the number of days is counted for a renter to respond to an eviction notice. Renters will have at least one less day to respond, and maybe more depending on what day of the week they are served.

This only applies to cases in Las Vegas Justice Court. North Las Vegas and Henderson courts will remain closed on Fridays.

Here is the full statement from Nevada Legal Services:

"The Las Vegas Justice Court has been closed on Fridays since July, 2020. In the afternoon of this past Tuesday, July 27, 2021, the Las Vegas Justice Court issued Administrative Order #21-08 which provides that the Las Vegas Justice Court, starting immediately, will be open on Fridays. Our office just became aware of this Administrative Order this morning."

"This action is particularly significant with regard to eviction notices, which require a tenant to file a challenge to an eviction notice (Tenant’s Affidavit) within a limited number of days. By adding an additional judicial day to the week, a tenant now has 1 to 4 less days within which to file a Tenant’s Affidavit with the court. How many days less depends on what day the eviction notice is served and how the counting of judicial days is affected by the weekends. For example, if an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent, which provides 7 days to file a Tenant’s Affidavit, is served on a Monday, a tenant will now have 1 less day within which to file. However, if this eviction notice is served on a Tuesday or Wednesday, the tenant will now have 4 less days within which to file than they did before this Administrative Order was issued."

"If a tenant does not file within the prescribed time period, any attempt by a tenant to file a Tenant’s Affidavit will be rejected and the court will issue an eviction order at the landlord’s request without a hearing or any other opportunity for the tenant to assert a defense."

"Our office is very disappointed with the timing of this Administrative Order and that it was issued with virtually no warning. The CDC moratorium is set to expire in two days. This moratorium has prevented countless Las Vegas residents from being evicted and rendered homeless during this COVID-19 pandemic. As this moratorium is lifted, it is anticipated that the number of eviction notices being served will skyrocket starting next week. At a time when many of our Las Vegas residents are struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on their table, the timeframe for filing just immediately became shorter. Even more significant than that though is that countless tenants, in anticipation of the oncoming waive of eviction notices, have been advised by our office and other legal professionals to not count Fridays when calculating the time within which to file. There is no time to adequately advise all those tenants that if they count the days as advised, they may end up filing late, having their Tenant’s Affidavit rejected for untimely filing, having what is essentially a default eviction order granted against them, and being locked out of their homes a couple days later. While the exact number is not known, there is little doubt that this Administrative Order will cause many of our Las Vegas residents to become homeless on a filing technicality. It is unfortunate, to say the least."

The Las Vegas Justice Court provided the following statement:

"Though a decision may have been made previously that Fridays were not counted as judicial days, a review of existing law revealed such a decision was not legally authorized. Judicial and nonjudicial days are defined by Nevada Revised Statutes 1.120 and 1.130 and essentially include any day that judicial business may be transacted except Sundays and legal holidays. Furthermore, Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure (JCRCP) 77(a) states,The justice courts shall be deemed always open for the purpose of filing any pleading or other proper paper, of issuing and returning mesne and final process, and of making and directing all interlocutory motions, orders and rules.” JCRCP 77(d) mandates that “Nonjudicial days for justice courts are the same as for district courts. If any day on which an act required to be done by any one of these rules falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the act may be performed on the next judicial day.” Nonjudicial days for the Eighth Judicial District Court only include Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. The Court is obligated to uphold the laws of the State of Nevada even amidst a pandemic."

"Since 2011, the Las Vegas Justice Court has authorized all litigants to electronically file all pleadings, including a tenant’s affidavit, at any hour of the day or night, seven days a week. In the Fall of 2020, the court launched the online guided interview in conjunction with the Civil Law Self Help Center which allows a tenant to proceed through a series of questions which will then be used to populate the tenant’s affidavit and electronically file the document with the Court. Currently, the District Court and Justice Court have joined together to allow 13 customer service windows to be staffed Monday through Friday by staff and volunteers of the Civil Law Self Help Center to assist tenant’s with electronically filing documents with the Court. Additionally, the Civil Law Self Help Center in conjunction with Legal Aid of Southern Nevada is offering pop-up clinics on weekends to assist tenants. This outreach has had a significant impact on the number of tenants responding to eviction notices by filing an affidavit with the court. Historically, only about 25% of tenants responded to eviction notices. That number rose to 66% in the month of June 2021 and to 95% in the first half of July 2021. Moreover, nearly 85% of tenants are electronically filing their affidavits with the Court rather than filing a paper document at the Clerk’s window."

"While the counting of judicial days a tenant has to answer will now resume compliance with the Nevada Revised Statutes and Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court will ensure every tenant is afforded the number of judicial days authorized by law and every opportunity to gain access to the Court either through electronic filing or filing in person."

"Though the media has continuously reported that the “moratorium” on evictions established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Order, it is important to note that the federally-issued guidance on this Order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Department of Justice sets forth that the Order is not intended to prevent landlords from starting eviction proceedings or to suspend the operations of any state or local court. Rather, the Order is intended to prevent any actual lockout prior to the Order’s expiration. Accordingly, eviction proceedings have continued during the period of the CDC Order within those parameters."

"Additionally, through a collaboration with Clark County Social Services, the Court provides a daily list of cases wherein the tenant files an affidavit with the Court to allow them reach out to the tenant via Help of Southern Nevada to assist the tenant with a rental assistance application. Recent data revealed the vast majority of tenants who filed an affidavit with the Court had not previously submitted a rental assistance application."

"The decision to open the Las Vegas Justice Court Clerk’s office on Fridays was a decision separate and apart from the legal issues relating to Friday being considered a judicial day. A review of data relating to the needs of the community revealed that the Clerk’s office served approximately 1,300 customers on Fridays. Whether through choice, work schedule, or otherwise, the Las Vegas Justice Court did not want to deprive this segment of the community from being able to access the Court for their needs. Thus, the decision was made to open the Clerk’s office on Fridays once the Court returned to 40-hour work weeks."