Landlord Discrimination, Harassment or Retaliation

What is unlawful discrimination or harassment?

Under the federal Fair Housing Act and NRS 118.100(1)(b), discrimination is a defense to an eviction if you have strong, documented proof your landlord singled you out based on race, color, religion, nationality, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or families with children or pregnant mothers. Most landlords know enough about fair housing to avoid listing blatantly discriminatory reasons for eviction and explain that evictions are done on a case-by-case basis.

Harassment by landlord is not a legal defense to eviction. Harassment is also not a basis to sue the landlord, except in cases where you have strong, documented proof.

I am disabled and have a pet. Can my landlord refuse to rent to me?

Even if the landlord has a “no pets” policy, you can still keep your service or emotional support animal. You should first submit a written request to the landlord called a reasonable accommodation request. In this letter, you should ask the landlord to accommodate your disability by allowing you to keep your service or emotional support animal. Keep of a copy of this letter. You should include with your letter any medical documentation to support why you need the service animal.  No certification for the animal is required.

Proof that an animal is a service animal is not required under the Fair Housing Act. The landlord is not allowed to ask for proof of your disability under the Fair Housing Act. However, the landlord can ask for proof that your needed service animal accommodation be related to your disability. A note from your doctor should be enough for an emotional support animal.

The landlord must allow you to keep your animal unless the request is unreasonable. An unreasonable request usually involves an animal that causes undue damage to the premises, makes too much noise, or attacks other tenants or their pets. You must also clean up after your service or emotional support animal.

If the landlord denies your request, ask the landlord to put this denial in writing. If you disagree with the denial, you can then file a Fair Housing complaint with the local U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office.

A service or emotional support animal is not a pet and should not be subject to any extra pet deposit as this would discriminate against tenants with disabilities and violate the Fair Housing Act.

what is a reasonable accommodation?

Common reasonable accommodation requests include moving from an upstairs to a downstairs unit, relocating to a unit closer to an exit, and fixing an elevator. If you suffer from a disability, you may write a letter to your letter requesting a reasonable accommodation directly related to your disability. The federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA) puts a duty upon landlords to “make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services” to provide equal access to housing to a person with a disability. NRS 118.100 mirrors the federal anti-discrimination requirements. Landlords must grant the reasonable accommodation request even if the request results in a financial cost to the landlord. However, landlords are not required to grant the request if the financial cost will cause an “undue financial or administrative burden” on the landlord. Whether there is an undue burden is determined on a case-by-case basis.

When is my landlord retaliating against me?

Retaliation generally happens when you complain about conditions in or around your dwelling and instead of fixing these problems, the landlord serves a no cause eviction notice. For example, if you complain in good faith to the landlord about habitability problems, or call the police about crime, the landlord cannot retaliate by serving you an eviction notice. Include this legal defense when you file a tenant’s affidavit with the court.

If your landlord retaliates by raising your rent and you refuse to sign the new lease, and then the landlord attempts to evict you, include this information in your tenant’s affidavit with the court. However, the landlord can still prove that the rise in rent is reasonable if the increase in rent applies in a uniform manner to all tenants.

If your landlord retaliates by shutting off an essential service to your dwelling, include this information in your written letter to the landlord. 

The actions that constitute retaliation are in NRS 118A.510.

What if my landlord enters my rental unit without permission?

Under NRS 118A.330, a landlord or agent has the ability to enter the dwelling unit for the purposes of inspection, to make necessary repairs or to provide necessary services, or to exhibit the dwelling to prospective buyers, future tenants, workmen, or anyone else with a bona fide interest in inspecting the premises. However, the landlord should provide 24 hours advance notice before entering your dwelling, except in emergencies. You cannot unreasonably withhold your consent for the landlord to peaceably enter for the reasons and under the conditions set forth above.

The landlord violates NRS 118A.500 if the landlord’s repeated demands for access unreasonably harass you. You may terminate your lease or seek an injunction in court to stop the landlord from abusing the right to access your dwelling.

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