Tenant's Right to Terminate Lease Due To Domestic Violence, Harassment, Sexual Assault, or Stalking


Overview

If a tenant (or a cotenant or a household member) is the victim of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking, the tenant or cotenant can terminate their lease by giving written notice of termination to the landlord.  (NRS 118A.345.)

A Sample Letter to Terminate Lease Due to Domestic Violence, Harassment, Sexual Assault, or Stalking is available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download the sample letter by clicking one of the listed formats underneath the letter's title below:

SAMPLE LETTER TO TERMINATE LEASE DUE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, HARASSMENT, STALKING, OR SEXUAL ASSAULT
Pdf Fillable | Form Guide

A tenant or cotenant who sends the written notice of termination should keep a copy of the written notice.  The tenant or cotenant should mail the notice to the landlord by certified mail, return receipt requested, so there is proof of mailing.

Q&A - Lease Termination Due to Domestic Violence, Harassment, Stalking, or Sexual Assault


Who is a "cotenant" or "household member"?

A "cotenant" is a tenant who is entitled to occupy the rental property under the lease along with another tenant who is also entitled to occupy the property under the same lease. A "household member" is any person who is related by blood or marriage and is actually living with a tenant or cotenant.  (NRS 118A.345(12)(b) & (12)(e).)

What is "domestic violence"?

"Domestic violence" occurs when a person commits one of the following bad acts against one of the people listed below:

  • A battery.
  • An assault.
  • Using force or threat to make a person do something (or not do something) that the person would otherwise have the right not to do (or do).
  • A sexual assault.
  • Harassment (which could include such things as stalking, arson, trespass, larceny, destruction of private property, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, or injuring or killing an animal).
  • False imprisonment.
  • Unlawful or forcible entry into a person's home where there is reasonably foreseeable risk of harm.

Where the bad act is committed against:

  • A spouse.
  • A former spouse.
  • Any person related by blood or marriage.
  • Any person who is or was dating the person committing the act.
  • Any person who has a child with the person committing the act.
  • A minor child of any of these people or the person committing the act.
  • A custodian or legal guardian of the minor child of the person committing the act.

    (NRS 33.018.)

What is considered harassment?

A person commits the crime of harassment if without lawful authority, the person knowingly threatens:

  1. To cause bodily injury in the future to the person threatened or to any other person; or
  2. To cause physical damage to the property of another person; or
  3. To subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint; or
  4. To do any act which is intended to substantially harm the person threatened or any other person with respect to his physical or mental health or safety; and

    The person by words or conduct places the person receiving the threat in reasonable fear that the threat will be carried out. (NRS 200.571.)

What is considered stalking?

A person commits the crime of stalking when that person, without lawful authority, willfully or maliciously engages in a course of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated or harassed, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated or harassed, commits the crime of stalking. (NRS 200.575(1).)

A person commits aggravated stalking when that person meets the definition of stalking above and also threatens another person with the intent to cause him to be placed in reasonable fear of death or substantial bodily harm. (NRS 200.575(2).)

What is considered sexual assault?

A person is guilty of sexual assault when that person subjects another person to sexual penetration or forces another person to make a sexual penetration on himself or another, or on a beast, against the will of the victim or under conditions in which the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of his conduct. (NRS 200.366(1).)

When is the tenant's or cotenant's notice of termination effective?

If a tenant or cotenant gives written notice of termination of the lease due to domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault, the termination of the lease is effective on whichever of the following dates is sooner:

  • Thirty days after the tenant's written notice is provided to the landlord, or
  • The end of the current rental period.

    (NRS 118A.345(1).)

So, for example, if a tenant who pays rent monthly (on the first of every month) gives written notice of termination to the landlord on July 10, the tenant's lease terminates on July 31, the last day of July's rental period.

What documentation must the tenant or cotenant provide with the notice of termination?

The tenant's or cotenant's written notice of termination to the landlord must be accompanied by one of the following:

  • A copy of a protection order against domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault that was issued to the tenant, cotenant, or a household member who is the victim of domestic violence, harassment, stalking or sexual assault.
  • A copy of a written report from a law enforcement agency indicating that the tenant, cotenant, or a household member notified the law enforcement agency of the domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault.
  • A copy of a written affidavit signed by a qualified third party acting in his or her official capacity, stating that the tenant, cotenant, or a household member is a victim of domestic violence and identifying the adverse party. (A sample qualified third party affidavit is included with the letter that can be downloaded at the top of this page.)
  • A copy of a written report from a law enforcement agency indicating that the tenant, cotenant or household member notified the law enforcement agency of the harassment, sexual assault or stalking, as applicable.
  • A copy of a temporary or extended protection order. Visit the Harassment & Protection page for more information on getting a temporary or extended protection order.

    (NRS 118A.345(2)-(3).)

How long does the tenant or cotenant have after the incident of domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault to send the notice of termination?

A tenant or cotenant must send the written notice of termination within ninety days after the actions, events, or circumstances that resulted in the tenant (or cotenant or household member) becoming a victim of domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault. (NRS 118A.345(4).)

What obligation does the tenant or cotenant have to the landlord if they terminate their lease due to domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault?

If the tenant or cotenant terminates their lease due to domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault, they are liable only for any rent owed through the termination date and any other outstanding obligations.  If the landlord is holding prepaid rent, the landlord can keep the prepaid rent and no refund is due the tenant or cotenant unless the prepaid rent exceeds the amount owed.  (NRS 118A.345(5).)

What happens to the security deposits if the lease is terminated due to domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault?

If a tenant or cotenant terminates the lease due to domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault, the landlord cannot withhold the deposit for the early termination of the lease.  Otherwise, the landlord should handle the deposits as required by Nevada law.  (NRS 118.345(5).)  Click to learn about Security Deposits.

Is there any way for the landlord to recover money damages resulting from the early termination?

Although the liability of a tenant or cotenant who terminates a lease due to domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault is limited to the rent and obligations owed through the termination date, if the landlord suffers money damages as a result of the termination, the landlord can recover those damages by suing the "adverse party."  The adverse party may be civilly liable for all of the landlord's economic losses resulting from the early termination, including unpaid rent, fees relating to early termination, costs for the repair of any damages to the rental property, and any reduction or waiver of rent previously given to the tenant or cotenant who terminates the lease.  (NRS 118A.345(6).)

Who is the "adverse party"?

The "adverse party" is the person named in an order for protection, a written report from a law enforcement agency, or a written statement from a qualified third party, who is alleged to be the cause of the early termination.  (NRS 118A.345(12)(a).)

What other obligations does the landlord have if a tenant or cotenant terminates their lease due to domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault?

If the tenant or cotenant provides the landlord with written notice terminating their lease due to domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault, the landlord:

  • Must not provide an "adverse party" with any information about the whereabouts of a tenant, cotenant, or household member.
  • Must not disclose, describe, or characterize tenant's or cotenant's termination as an "early termination" to a prospective landlord.
  • Must install a new lock onto the dwelling if the tenant, cotenant, or a household member requests it and pays the costs of installing the new lock.

A landlord who installs a new lock can keep a copy of the key.  But the landlord must refuse to provide a key to an "adverse party." The landlord must also refuse to give an "adverse party" access to unit to reclaim property unless a law enforcement officer is present, regardless of whether the "adverse party" lives there.

A landlord must not "retaliate" against a tenant, a cotenant, or a household member who is the victim of domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault by:

  • Raising rent,
  • Decreasing essential services,
  • Refusing to renew a lease, or
  • Evicting.

    (NRS 118A.510(1).)

CAUTION! "Retaliation," can be raised as a defense in an eviction case.  (NRS 118A.510(2).)  It could also be grounds for a lawsuit against the landlord for money damages and statutory damages up to $2,500.  (NRS 118A.510(2); 118A.390.)