A Nevada residential rental lease agreement is a valid contract between you and your tenants. It should contain a number of essential terms and define your and your tenants’ rights and obligations. Although you can have an enforceable oral rental agreement, you risk experiencing disputes over the terms of your arrangement that a court will have difficult sorting out and you may find yourself liable for damages that you could have avoided if you had a written agreement.
Nevada Leases Regulated by State and Local Laws
Your lease agreement is regulated by state laws and in some cases by the local ordinances in the city where your rental units are located. Always research these ordinances or consult an attorney to be sure your lease and your actions comply with these ordinances as well as with state laws.
If your agreement does not state a definite term, it is a weekly lease if the rent is paid weekly. It is a monthly lease if the tenant pays once per month. In an oral lease, there is a rebuttable presumption that the lease allows pets and children, that garbage is disposed of free of charge and there are no late fees or fees for insufficient funds on returned rent checks.
Obligations of a Landlord
Nevada landlords may not discriminate against a rental applicant on the basis of color, race, creed, religion, national origin, familial status or disability. You may turn down an applicant who has poor credit, a criminal record, no references, and a history of prior evictions or lack of sufficient income.
Your other obligations include:
- Provide and maintain a habitable residence that complies with all building and housing codes affecting the health, safety, sanitation and fitness for habitation
- Supply weather protection for the roof, walls, doors and windows
- Provide hot and cold running water
- Have a functioning plumbing system
- Supply electrical, heating, air conditioning, outlets and wiring
- Keep common areas free of trash and rubbish
- Provide adequate number of trash receptacles and arrangements for trash removal
- Ensure that floors, walls, ceilings, stairways and railings in good condition
- Allow the tenant to display the American flag on any part of the premises to which the tenant has exclusive possession
- Do not take steps to self-evict a tenant without a court order or to retaliate against a tenant who complained to authorities about the condition of the premises or who otherwise exercised a civil right
Obligations of the Tenant
Tenants have basic obligations as well:
- Keep and maintain the premises in clean and sanitary condition
- Properly dispose of all trash and garbage
- Keep plumbing fixtures in clean and good condition
- Appropriately use all appliances, heating, electrical, sanitary, ventilation and other systems
- Refrain from deliberately damaging any part of the premises
- Obey the law
- Do not disturb the right of other tenants to the quiet enjoyment of their own units
Contents of the Lease and Optional Terms
So long as the rental agreement comports with state laws and local ordinances, you can include optional terms in your lease in anticipation of circumstances that often arise in landlord/tenant relationships.
Your lease should contain the following terms along with suggested provisions:
- Name of owner and property manager who is authorized to manage the property, address where rent is to be paid and request for repairs are to be directed; address and identity of person to whom legal documents and notices are to be served; phone number of person in the county or within 60 miles of premises who can be contacted in case of emergency (required term)
- Names of the tenants and other occupants and if children are allowed—have all adult tenants sign the lease so that both are jointly and severally liable for the lease terms, including the rent
- Description of the premises
- Term of the lease—weekly, monthly, yearly or other
- Amount of rent, due date—state a grace period and amount of late fees—you may ask for prepaid rent as there is no statute on this issue
- Returned check fees
- Security deposit—no more than 3 month’s rent or the tenant may obtain a surety bond; no interest required or that funds be deposited in an separate account; advise tenant that the funds will be returned within 30-days of tenant vacating unit to a forwarding address or to the tenant’s last known address or you will submit a written, itemized statement with specific reasons for withholding deposit by mail with return receipt requested within this time—you are required to provide and have signed a record of the inventory and condition of the premises with check-in list when the tenant takes possession; recommend that you do a mutual inspection a short time after the tenant vacates with check-out list
- That the tenant or landlord will pay attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in a court action
- Information regarding the procedure by which a tenant may contact the appropriate authority to report a nuisance or violation of a building or housing code
- Information regarding the right of the tenant to display the American flag
- Obligations of landlord regarding repairs and maintenance and of services—Rules of conduct that fairly apply to and promote the convenience, safety or welfare of all tenants and preserve the landlord’s property and is in good faith and not designed to evade any responsibilities of the landlord—if adopted after the tenancy begins, the tenant must consent to the rule(s) in writing but does not affect the tenant’s right to keep a pet to the end of the rental term
- Obligations of tenant as noted above—you may require the tenant to perform specific repairs, maintenance and minor remodeling if it does not diminish the obligations of the landlord and it is entered into in good faith with the tenant
- Responsibility for utilities
- Major appliances that are being provided
- No commercial, business or unlawful use of premises by tenant or conduct that constitutes a nuisance or is unlawful
- Pet clause—may limit type of pet, weight and require tenant to clean up pet waste in common areas; may charge a deposit
- Subletting clause
- Right of entry by landlord to make repairs, inspect and show to future tenants or purchasers or if the tenant has been causing a disturbance or is otherwise violating the lease—24-hours’ notice required and during normal business hours unless otherwise consented to; indicate that you may enter immediately if it is an emergency that involves the potential of loss of life or that the unit is in imminent danger of being severely damaged
- Notify landlord if absence from unit is 7 days or longer
- Notices regarding termination for nonpayment of rent, other lease violations—5-days for nonpayment of rent and other material violations
- Notice for increasing rent—45-days in advance of the rent due date in a monthly lease (may not be for a discriminatory or retaliatory purpose)—if less than a one month tenancy, 15-days’ notice is required
- Disclosure of the presence of any lead-based paint or hazards on the property for rental property built before 1978—both landlord and tenant must sign an EPA-approved disclosure form and the tenant provided an EPA pamphlet entitled “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.”
- Disclose if the property is subject to foreclosure
Terms not Allowed
There are some provisions that you may not include in a rental agreement:
- Waiver of statutory remedies available to tenant
- Waiver of right to sue landlord for negligence or to recover damages
- Authorize a person to confess judgment on any claim arising out of the lease
- Allow landlord to evict tenant without a court order
- Allow the landlord to enter without notice at any time
- Charge more than the maximum allowable for security deposit
- Alter the notice and other procedures for return of the security deposit
- Allow the landlord to take the tenant’s personal belongings for nonpayment of rent
Rules on Security Deposits
Security deposit disputes are typically the main issues affecting a landlord/tenant relationship. By requiring that you have a written statement regarding the inventory and condition of the premises and signed by both parties, you can minimize the possibility of this arising. Also, have a mutual check-out inspection as well.
Deposits are to be no more than 3-month’s rent and are refundable. You have no requirement to place the funds in an interest bearing account. You may allow the tenant to obtain a surety bond in lieu of a deposit to cover damages, cleaning and outstanding rent. Within 30-days of the tenant vacating, you must either return the full deposit or submit a written statement itemizing the damages and the costs of repair to a forwarding address or to the tenant’s last known address.
Termination of the Lease
Fixed term leases expire automatically. If either party wishes to terminate a monthly lease, then a 30-day notice is required.
For nonpayment of rent or for any other material violation of the lease, a 5-day notice to vacate must be served that gives the tenant 3 days to pay the overdue rent in full or cure the breach of a specific lease term before eviction proceedings may be filed.
If any tenant vacates early in violation of the lease or is evicted, you must take reasonable steps to mitigate damages or find a suitable replacement tenant or you may not be able to recover all rent due over the remainder of the lease duration.
Should you breach any material term of the lease such as not providing essential services, the tenant may serve you with a notice to terminate within 14-days unless the breach is remedied within that time. The tenant may terminate the lease immediately after 14 days and recover actual damages.
Under the Servicemembers’ Relief Act, any tenant who is a member of the Armed Forces including any of the uniformed services can terminate a fixed term lease if the tenant receives deployment orders to move more than 35 miles from the premises for more than 90 days. The tenant must provide you with a copy of the orders. This also applies if the tenant is ordered to reside in government-supplied quarters. 30-days’ notice is required and the tenant is responsible for the remainder of that month’s rent, if any, but with no further obligations under the lease. The lease will terminate 30-days after the notice is given.
Domestic Violence Exception
A tenant who is the victim of domestic violence can terminate a lease by giving 30-day’s notice accompanied by an order of protection, a copy of a police report, or an affidavit signed by a qualified third party attesting to a domestic violence incident that occurred within 90 days of the notice of termination. The tenant is liable for rent owed to the date of termination. If requested by the tenant, you must change the locks but at the tenant’s expense.
Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent/Deduct and Repair
Should you not provide essential services like heat or electricity or maintain the premises so that it becomes uninhabitable or unfit, then the tenant may withhold rent if you were given written notice of the condition and failed to repair or cure the condition within 48-hours. If you knew about the condition but failed to correct it even without a written notice from the tenant or if you were given notice by a housing inspection by a governmental authority, the tenant may still withhold rent and pursue certain remedies.
A tenant may also choose to deduct costs of repair from the rent if you are given a 14-day written notice of the repairs that are needed and that you need to undertake these repairs or the cost of the repairs will be deducted from the following month’s rent.
A Nevada residential lease agreement requires that you include certain terms and provisions. Some of these may differ depending on the city where your rental unit is located and if local ordinances apply. If you have any questions or doubts about your rights and obligations as a landlord, contact a Nevada landlord/tenant attorney.