LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — After hearing the plight of Corrine Contino, viewers have responded to help the woman who was recently evicted from her home. Shortly after a GoFundMe account was set up Wednesday night to help Contino, money was getting donated.
Contino was already struggling financially when her rent was increased. Spikes in rent is an issue many viewers have reached out to 8 News Now about.
County Commissioner William McCurdy II has asked for rapidly increasing rents across the valley to be addressed at the next county commission meeting. Until then, housing costs in Southern Nevada continue to increase, especially when it comes to rental rates.
In some cases, tenants have faced eviction because they couldn’t afford the increase.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic hit to Southern Nevada, it’s the perfect storm.
“I slept in my car with my animals the first night,” said Contino.
She tells the I-Team she lost her business during the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s been struggling financially, and rent went up. She was already behind.
“It’s just not right,” expressed Contino.
She tells the I-Team the constable showed up at her home a week ago.
“You got two minutes to grab your stuff and however long it takes to change the locks and you are locked out,” Contino recalls the constable saying. “It took me by such surprise that I was devastated,” she adds.
That’s when Contino decided to take her dogs and cat and leave.
“You cannot jump out,” she tells her pets as she attempts to keep them in her air-conditioned car.
Aaron MacDonald is a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. He tells the I-Team, “A lot of tenants are still facing an eviction crisis and we are hearing that landlords are raising rents across the valley.”
According to the Nevada State Apartment Association, in 2018 the average rent for an apartment in the Las Vegas valley was $966.
Currently, the average rent stands at $1,237, an increase of $271.
“It makes it really difficult for tenants right now because landlords are increasing the rent by 20, 30% and a lot of tenants don’t have that ability to pay that increased rent amount,” adds MacDonald.
According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, more than 900 eviction notices were delivered by the constable in January.
That jumped to more than 1,500 evictions last month.
Contino says she slept in a garage the past few nights and she’s been trying to find help.
“This is not what I planned for myself,” she continues. “I’ve never been homeless in my life.”
If a tenant receives an eviction notice, they’re urged to file an answer in court.
If a tenant has applied for rental assistance, by law in Nevada, they cannot be locked out while they’re waiting for their application to be processed.
It appears Contino filed an answer and applied for rental assistance, but she may not have mentioned it in court and her appeal was denied.
Many viewers have reached out with questions asking if rent hikes are legal.
The answer is yes, they are legal but notice by the landlord still needs to be provided.
MacDonald also wants those that find themselves in a similar situation to know there is help available.
Listed below are three rules that govern rent increase in the state of Nevada:
- If tenant has an unexpired lease, landlord may not increase the rent.
- If tenant is month-to-month tenant, landlord can raise rent to whatever they wish but has to give 60 days advance notice in writing.
- If tenant is week-to-week tenant, landlord can raise rent to whatever amount but gives 30 days advance notice in writing.
MacDonald adds that if a landlord doesn’t give appropriate notice, the tenant needs to send a demand letter to the landlord to let them know that they inappropriately charged more rent than they were permitted under Nevada law.
The tenant can also sue the landlord in small claims court.