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Renter trashes Las Vegas house on way out, property managers say it’s a pandemic trend

KVVU Las Vegas logo KVVU Las Vegas 5/4/2021
a stop sign: For sale sign is seen in this undated file photo. (FOX5) © Provided by KVVU Las Vegas

For sale sign is seen in this undated file photo. (FOX5)

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A home near Jones Boulevard and Hacienda Avenue sits vacant. Inside, there is trash on the ground, house fixtures ripped out, profanity scribbled on walls and cigarette butts in the toilet.

"It gives me a knot in my stomach. I don't even want to see what it looks like," homeowner Dawna Priest said.

Priest purchased the home in 1998. Since 2004, she has rented it out.

"Being a single woman and buying a house by myself it was really special to me," Priest said.

For the last five years, the same renter has lived in the home. Priest said pre-pandemic she never had any issues with the tenant. Then, last March they stopped paying rent. Rental assistance finally arrived through the CARES Act Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) in December.

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However, in the New Year, the same problem persisted. Priest said she was willing to work with the renter, but there was no communication. Struggling financially and unable to evict under the moratorium, Priest decided she would sell.

Priest, who lives in Virginia, planned on retiring in the home one day.

The renter refused to leave. The landlord said she finally filed an unlawful detainer and the renter moved out last month. On their way out, the tenant left the house trashed. They even moved the refrigerator so it blocked the staircase half way up.

"Most of our move outs have been the worst we've ever seen,” NARPM Southern Nevada President Joshua Campa said.

Campa is a broker and president of the local chapter of the national property manager's association. He said this is far from an isolated incident, and it's caused by the COVID era renting rules.

"Once you negate one aspect of the contract, the tenant thinks it’s free game. They're like, ‘we don't have to listen to any of the other rules anymore,’" Campa said.

Campa said many people are taking advantage of the renter protections. According to Campa, most people that really need the financial assistance, because they are having financial struggles are communicative with property managers.

“The people who didn’t pay at all and destroyed property, it appears those are people that took advantage of the system, because they never reached out to us,” Campa said.

Regular inspections also haven’t been possible, because of the pandemic.

"What these people were able to do to my house, because of all the moratoriums, it’s crazy,” Priest said. “Now I'm left with $8,000-10,000 in damages."

The Nevada eviction moratorium ends May 31, which means the court process for evictions can begin, but can’t take place until the federal moratorium expires June 30.

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