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Moving Out

Getting your own place is a great freedom and a big responsibility. Whether you live on your own or share an apartment with friends, you should know your rights and obligations if you plan to rent a place to live.

Before Moving In
Can a landlord refuse to rent to me because of my race, religion, or sex?
No. Under state and federal law, a landlord may not refuse to rent to you because of your race, religious creed, color, national origin, disability, ancestry, familial status or sex (NRS 118.020).  

What is a lease?
A lease is an agreement between the landlord (person renting out the apartment) and you (the tenant). The lease sets the conditions for renting the apartment. Leases may or may not be written. It is a good idea to request that the lease be written. A lease must be in writing if you agree to rent the apartment for longer than one year.

What is the difference between a cotenant and a subtenant?
A cotenant is someone who is also renting the same apartment as you and signs the lease. A cotenant is equally responsible for rent. Subletting is when you lease out your apartment to another person. Many leases expressly forbid subletting. If you do sublet, you are still legally considered the tenant and the landlord can hold you responsible for any damages caused by the person you lease to, even if you do not live there.

What is a security deposit?
Most landlords require you to give a security deposit before allowing you to move into the apartment (NRS 118A.240).  This deposit is usually approximately the same amount as one month’s rent and is used by the landlord to pay for any damages to the apartment incurred when you are the tenant and left unpaid rent. A landlord may not use a security deposit to pay for fixing “normal wear and tear” – condition of the apartment that resulted from normal everyday usage — to the apartment. Ask the landlord to explain what will be considered normal wear and tear and what would be considered damages. A landlord must, within 30 days after you leave, return the full deposit amount or the remaining amount with an itemized list accounting for the lesser amount. NRS 118A.242.

Tips for Renting
• Actually read your lease - don’t just sign the lease. Read it over carefully and ask your landlord for explanations on things that are unclear. Often times, landlords hide additional expenses, like charging $100 for a lost key, in the lease so make sure to read all of it. Demand a copy of the signed lease for your own records.

• Document the condition of the apartment before moving in and after moving out – a good idea is to videotape or photograph the apartment before moving any of your stuff in and again when moving out. That way a landlord cannot lie about the condition of the apartment and unfairly charge you. If you don’t have access to a camera, write down every single pre-existing condition (i.e. stains on rug) before moving in, give that list to your landlord, and keep a copy for yourself.

• Ask for rental receipts – proving that you paid the rent on time.

• Write down complaints – try to always put in writing complaints to the landlord regarding needed repairs or problems you are experiencing with the apartment. Keep copies of those letters.

While Living There
What if I don’t pay rent on time?

If you fail to pay rent on time, you may be charged a late fee in addition to the full rent amount. If you fail to pay any rent, a landlord can terminate your lease and evict you – force you to move. An eviction is a court judgment that entitles the landlord to have a sheriff forcibly move you and your belongings out of the apartment. In some cases, a landlord may take some of your personal belongings to pay for the amount of unpaid rent you owe. NRS 118A.520. An eviction will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for you to find another apartment to rent. NRS 118A.490.

If you know you may have problems paying this month’s rent, talk to you landlord before the due date. Sometimes a landlord will agree to take a portion of the rent until you can make up the rest.

Landlord’s Rights and Obligations
A landlord must maintain the apartment in a “habitable condition.” NRS 118A.290. An apartment is not habitable if there is a major construction issue, i.e. no working sewage, no running water, no working electrical outlets. A landlord is also responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all common areas – outside stairwells, parking lots, swimming pools in an apartment complex.

A landlord has the right to enter your apartment in emergencies like a fire or an overflowing bathtub. Any other times, the landlord must get your consent before entering your apartment. A landlord must give you 24 hours notice and may only enter at reasonable business hours (8 am – 5 pm). If you unreasonably refuse to give consent, the landlord can get a court order allowing entrance to your apartment. NRS 118A.330 and NRS 118A.500.

Tenant’s Rights and Obligations
You, as the tenant, must pay rent on time, keep the apartment clean and safe, and conduct yourself in a manner that will not disturb a neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of their apartment. NRS 118A.310.

If the landlord fails to maintain your apartment in a habitable condition or neglects the upkeep of the apartment’s common areas, you have the right to complain to the landlord and demand repairs. If these repairs are not made within a reasonable amount of time, you can withhold part of your rent until repairs are made. NRS 118A.360 and NRS 118A.380. 

Moving Out
You must give reasonable written notice to your landlord that you are moving. If you signed a lease and you move out before that lease ends, you may be liable for remaining months of rent and additional charges. NRS 118A.420. You can move out before a lease expires if you have a mental or physical condition – such as you are involved in an
accident and can no longer climb the stairs– that requires you to relocate. NRS 118A.340.

This guide is an introduction to narrow topics of Nevada law. Keep in mind that federal, state and local laws are constantly subject to change. If you have a legal question or problem, you should consult an attorney.