Who gets to raise the rent? Lawmakers debate exemptions in Nevada bill

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 12:16 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - As many Nevadans continue struggling to pay rent, lawmakers consider a bill that would cap rent increases. Within the bill are several exemptions that have sparked debate over who should be able to raise rent -- and when.

One of those exemptions is for new developments, so as not to disincentivize building units. Housing supply was commonly referred to during Friday’s Senate hearing on the bill as one of the main drivers of an affordability crisis.

Some who testified against the bill say that won’t solve the issue of big investors gobbling up more property.

“The out-of-state multi-billion dollar Wall Street hedge fund that you’re really mad at won’t feel a bump,” realtor Keith Lynam argued.

Another exemption baked into the Neighborhood Stabilization Act is for landlords that put money into a property.

“This is a very reasonable model for rental properties,” landlord John Solomon said in support of the bill. “Which will help neighborhoods throughout the state maintain and increase the quality of life.”

Solomon says being allowed to raise rent in the event of renovations and unexpected maintenance makes the bill workable for him.

“This will encourage other landlords to do the same,” he said. “Which is good.”

But State Senator Jeff Stone argued the path for landlords to get those exemptions is filled with red tape and might not be worth it after all.

“To create all these bureaucratic pathways that I have to go through to justify what I can charge a tenant, not to charge 5% when inflation is 8.5%, you’re already requiring landlords to take a 3.5% hit,” Stone said.

Former Nevada legislator Susie Martinez, who testified representing a local AFL-CIO chapter, recalled a conversation she had with a man whose rent she said went from $900 to $1,200 a month with no improvements to his home.

“I asked, ‘Did you get new appliances?’” Martinez said. “He’s like, ‘No, Miss Martinez, I did not.’ I said, ‘Did you get new flooring?’ He’s like, ‘No, Miss Martinez, I did not.’ ‘Did they paint your house?’ He’s like, ‘No. Actually, it’s deteriorated because it’s getting older and they have not done that.’”

The bill also does not apply to dwelling units that are owned by a governmental agency or by a landlord providing reduced rent through a government program. It also does not apply to units that are the only ones owned by the landlord in Nevada, nor for structures that contain four or fewer families where the owner occupies one of the units.

Data from Rent.com shows that rental prices have actually leveled off over the last year in Las Vegas after rising during the pandemic, and have even decreased in some cases.