What are habitability violations and what can i do about them?
NRS 118A.290 provides the requirements for a landlord to maintain a habitable dwelling. Habitability violations constitute problems such as plumbing, pest and vermin infestations, holes in the walls, electrical problems, etc.
Under NRS 118A.355, you must provide 14 days written notice to the landlord describing the violations and requesting repairs before you can take any legal action. In the written notice, you must specify each failure by the landlord to maintain the dwelling unit in a habitable condition and request that the landlord remedy the failures. You should date and sign the letter and keep a copy of the signed letter. However, if the landlord starts making a reasonable attempt to make the repairs, you may not take these legal actions, and you will have to send another letter giving the landlord another 14 days.
If the landlord fails to make the repairs or a reasonable attempt to make the repairs, you may:
- Terminate your lease.
- Sue to recover actual damages.
- Repair or fix the problem on your own (like hiring a contractor) and deduct from your next month’s rent. You may only deduct up to one-month’s worth of rent in repairing or fixing the problem.
- Withhold rent. You cannot withhold for past owed rent. You will have to deposit your rent with the justice court’s escrow account in order to raise the habitability defense in court if the landlord tries to evict you for non-payment of rent. If a government inspector notified you and landlord of the habitability problem, you do not need to wait 14 days to file suit for general damages or withhold rent.
What are essential Services?
Generally, the services that are considered essential are heat, air conditioning, running water, hot water, electricity, gas, and a functioning door lock to the outside. For air conditioning, technically it is considered essential if it is provided to you or required by the lease but most judges in southern Nevada consider air conditioning to be essential.
Under NRS 118A.380, you must provide the landlord with a written request the repairs to be made within 48 hours, excluding holidays before you can take the following legal actions. Always keep a copy of the signed and dated letter.
- Obtain the essential services on your own and deduct the cost from next month’s rent.
- Sue the landlord for actual damages including the reduction in the value of the dwelling.
- Withhold any rent that becomes due. Note: You cannot withhold past due rent.
- Obtain comparable substitute housing during the time that your essential service is not working. For example, if your rent is $600 a month, you should find housing at around $20 per night ($600 divided by 30 days). If the substitute housing costs reasonable more than the current rent, client can recover the difference in cost from her landlord.
If a government inspector notified you and landlord of the lack of essential services, you do not need to wait 48 hours to file suit for damages or withhold rent.
What is considered a Casualty?
Generally, casualties are major fires, flooding or a collapse of the roof. Something from nature that makes the home uninhabitable.
The fire or other casualty must substantially impair the dwelling. If you are not forced out of the dwelling immediately after the event occurred, the dwelling is probably not substantially impaired.
You can immediately vacate the premises and notify the landlord within 7 days of vacating that you terminated the lease on the day of the casualty. Moreover, you have the right to demand the return all prepaid rent from the date of move out.