Landlord Maintenance and Unpaid Rent During COVID-19
There are many uncertainties surfacing during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the main areas of concern for Landlords and Tenants alike is how to fulfill their contractual obligations while navigating the very real impacts of C-19.
If you are a Tenant, you may be wondering if you need to pay rent – the answer is yes. Governor Sisolak’s Declaration of Emergency Directive 008 puts a moratorium on evictions on the basis of non-payment. However, it does not relieve any party (landlord or tenant) from their obligations within the lease. As such, you will be held responsible for any rent that you do not pay during the State of Emergency. http://gov.nv.gov/News/Emergency_Orders/2020/2020-03-29_-_COVID-19_Declaration_of_Emergency_Directive_008/
If you are a Landlord, you may be concerned about balancing compliance with the Emergency Directive and managing your properties amidst this crisis. One question you may ask yourself is if you need to perform maintenance on properties with tenants who have not paid their rent. The short answer is probably, yes.
A Landlord is duty-bound by Nevada law to maintain “habitability” of a property occupied by a Tenant. See NRS 118A.290. https://www.leg.state.nv.us/nrs/nrs-118a.html. Habitability of a property includes providing essential services, such as water, plumbing, heating and functioning door locks. Failure to provide essential services is a violation of Nevada law. Failure by the Tenant to remit rent does not negate a Landlord’s obligation to ensure habitability.
Further, Governor Sisolak’s Emergency Directive 008 specifically prohibits Landlords from imposing penalties against Tenants for unpaid rent. Refusing to maintain a habitable living space or withholding essential services due to non-payments can be considered a penalty against the Tenant.
In sum, a Landlord cannot withhold essential items and/or services that constitute habitability due to non-payment of rent, especially in light of COVID-19. A Landlord has both an express legal obligation and implied obligation under the COVID-19 Emergency Directive by Governor Sisolak to fulfill this requirement. When in doubt, confirm what “essential services” are pursuant to NRS 118A.290 and be sure that you are making good faith efforts to maintain these services.