LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It is the final stage of the eviction process: A lockout.
The I-Team is there as the Constable’s office enters and locks are changed quickly before the tenant returns.
Jim Berchtold is the directing attorney for consumer rights at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada which has seen an increase in tenants in need of help.
“I think we are in a housing crisis for sure,” said Berchtold.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reports 800 eviction notices delivered and 395 lockouts in September of 2020, which was during the eviction moratorium.
For September 2021, with no moratorium in place, those numbers jumped to 1,168 for eviction notices and 1,482 for the number of lockouts that took place.
“We continue to talk to tenants every day who still don’t understand what they need to do in this crisis to protect themselves,” Berchtold added.
Some of those tenants end up at Las Vegas Justice Court.
The I-Team recently observed hearing master David Brown as he handled more than 40 cases on this day alone.
One case involved an ex-girlfriend who wanted to kick her ex out of the dwelling.
Another case involved a landlord who claimed a tenant is running an illegal catering business inside a home.
There are lighter moments but mainly dire situations.
In the majority of the cases, evictions are denied.
Nevada Assembly Bill 486 halts an eviction if there is a pending application for rental assistance through programs such as the CARES Housing Assistance Program (CHAP).
Brown points out several times that AB 486 may have some flaws.
“I didn’t write that law but I am required to enforce it,” he says.
It’s the saving grace for many tenants, but for those with months of unpaid rent without a pending application, many evictions are ordered.
I’m terminally ill. 50% of my heart is dead. I’m totally disabled.Tenant
In some cases, Brown grants more time.
“I’m going to give you one week to get your application and everything completed,” Brown tells one tenant.
He acknowledges on the bench, the challenge to find affordable housing.
“I understand completely, it’s hard to find any place there right now. Maybe next to impossible,” he says.
Just another reason after hearing the following words, there is a feeling of hopelessness.
“The court will find unlawful detainer and order summary eviction,” he rules.
8 News Now reached out to the chief judge to request an interview with hearing master Brown about his experience making these decisions in eviction court.
A Clark County spokesman says the interview is not possible because of Nevada’s code of judicial ethics, even though the I-Team promised not to discuss specific cases.
For more information on resources available for tenants and landlords, a few links have been provided below.
Civil Law Self-help center information:
- WHO: Tenants and Landlords
- WHAT: Free legal aid due to evicitions
- WHERE: Civil Law Self Help Center – Regional Justice Center, 200 Lewis Ave. (Downtown Las Vegas)
- WHEN: Mon- Thurs., 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Fri, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Other helpful resources:
Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada: (702)-386-1070