Dear TRC Counselor,
I moved here from out of state last winter and the unit I moved into has had so many problems. There is a cockroach problem and there is a leak under the sink that the landlord has yet to fix properly. When the landlord came to fix the leak, he did not even replace any parts. He just wrapped the pipes with some tape, so the leak is not fixed. To make matters worse, I think that there is black mold growing and I am afraid that it is going to start affecting my health. I am tired of submitting work orders. Do I have to pay rent? My family and I cannot live like this anymore.
Sincerely, Losing patience
Dear Losing Patience,
It is very difficult when you are facing habitability problems in your apartment. Everyone deserves to have a livable home to live in. The problems you mentioned, plumbing, cockroach infestations, and mold, all fall under NRS 118A.290, the Habitability Statute. Nevada Law requires landlords to provide a livable home to tenants, and there are protections in place for tenants to enforce these rules.
Under Nevada Law, tenants are required to serve their landlord with a 14 Day Habitability Notice, telling the landlord what repairs are needed. The letter should state that the landlord has 14 days from receipt of the notice to make a reasonable attempt to fix the problem. This has to be done in good faith, so wrapping tape around the pipes will probably not meet this requirement. If the landlord fails to do this within the 14 days, tenants can pursue the remedies under NRS 118A.355 or NRS 118A.360.
Under NRS 118A.355, you can either 1) withhold rent, 2) terminate the lease, 3) sue for damages, or 4) seek other relief in court. You can pursue only one of these four remedies, and if you choose to withhold rent, they should deposit it in escrow at the justice court where you live. If the landlord makes the repairs, you must immediately release the rent to the landlord.
Please note that while work orders and emails are useful, to ensure that you are following Nevada Law, be sure to send the written notice to the landlord with tracking so that you can prove that it was delivered. There’s no need to send it with a signature, as some landlords will not sign for the letter. However, keep proof of tracking as well a copy of the letter and sure to reach out to the TRC for advice to evaluate your case when the landlord satisfied the requirements of the statute.
You can also have the option to repair and deduct under NRS 118A.360. The rules are similar, as the 14 day notice for habitability should be sent to the landlord. However, if the landlord fails to make a reasonable attempt to do the repairs, you can pay to have the repairs done and then deduct the amount from next month’s rent. The cost should not exceed one months rent and the repairs cannot exceed one month’s rent within any one calendar year.
On your final question regarding the mold, it is important to have the mold tested because most mold is not dangerous and can just be cleaned. However, there are dangerous types of mold and it needs to be tested. We can refer you to the State Bar Lawyer Referral Service so that you can be referred to an attorney who specializes in these types of cases.