Find out what a landlord must do with items left behind by a tenant when the tenant leaves the rental property. Also learn what a tenant can do if a landlord is refusing to return those items.
Sometimes when a tenant vacates a rental property – whether the tenant leaves voluntarily or because the tenant is evicted – there is personal property of the tenant's left behind on the property. Nevada law specifies what a landlord can and must do with the tenant's personal property. It also sets out a procedure the tenant can follow to get an expedited court hearing if the landlord refuses to return tenant's property.
Q&A - Property Left Behind
How long must a landlord keep a tenant's property after eviction?
A landlord must safely store a tenant's property for thirty days after the tenant's abandonment or eviction or the end of the rental period. (NRS 118A.460(1).)
Can the landlord refuse to release a tenant's property after the tenant is evicted?
During the thirty-day period that the landlord must safeguard tenant's property, the landlord must provide reasonable access and opportunity for the tenant (or his authorized representative) to retrieve personal property left behind. The landlord is liable to the tenant only for the landlord's negligent or wrongful acts in storing the property. (NRS 118A.460(1)(a).)
During the thirty-day storage period, the landlord is not required to leave tenant's property in the rental unit as the tenant left it. The landlord can inventory, move, and store tenant's property and can charge and collect the reasonable and actual costs incurred for that inventory, moving, and storage before releasing the property to the tenant. (NRS 118A.460(1).) The landlord cannot, however, require the tenant to pay rent or the costs of the eviction as a condition to releasing the property. (NRS 118A.520.)
What if more than thirty days have expired since the tenant's eviction?
After the expiration of the thirty-day storage period, the landlord can dispose of tenant's property and recover landlord's reasonable costs out of the property, so long as:
- The landlord has made reasonable efforts to locate the tenant,
- The landlord has notified the tenant in writing of landlord's intention to dispose of the property (by mailing a written notice to tenant's present address, or if that address is unknown, to tenant's last known address), and
- Fourteen days have passed since the written notice was given to the tenant.
What can the tenant do if the landlord will not return the tenant's property or if the tenant disputes the landlord's charges?
TIP! If you're having a tough time negotiating a time and place to get your property from your former landlord, the Neighborhood Justice Center is a great resource. The NJC can contact your former landlord to help you start a dialogue and, hopefully, obtain a resolution both you and your landlord can live with. Click to visit Free Mediation for more information. Attempting to mediate with the NJC does not prevent you from filing the motion discussed below.
If the landlord refuses to return the tenant's property, or if the tenant disagrees with the costs the landlord is claiming, the tenant can file a Motion to Contest Personal Property Lien and for Return of Personal Property with the justice court for the township where the rental property is located. (NRS 40.253(7).) The motion is available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center. The form can also be downloaded on your computer by clicking one of the listed formats underneath the form's title below:
TIP! Different justice courts may have different filing requirements, so be sure to familiarize yourself with your court's procedures. The Las Vegas Justice Court, for instance, requires all documents to be filed electronically, so anyone filing in that court needs an e-mail address to set up an electronic filing account. To learn more about electronic filing, visit the Las Vegas Justice Court website.
To file the motion, the tenant must pay a $71 filing fee or file an Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (sometimes called a "fee waiver application"). Click to visit the Filing Fees and Waivers page for information and forms.
The tenant can sue the landlord for money damages and punitive damages up to $2,500 if the landlord holds the tenant's property in an effort to ensure that the tenant pays rent. (NRS 118A.520, NRS 118A.390.)
What is the deadline for filing a Motion to Contest Personal Property Lien and for Return of Personal Property?
The Motion to Contest Personal Property Lien and for Return of Personal Property must be filed within twenty calendar days after the last of the following events to occur:
- The order for eviction was issued;
- The tenant abandoned the premises;
- The tenant vacated or was removed from the premises; or
- A copy of the landlord's charges relating to the storage of the property was requested by or provided to the tenant.
When will a hearing on the Motion to Contest Personal Property Lien and for Return of Personal Property be scheduled?
The court must schedule a hearing on the Motion to Contest Personal Property Lien and for Return of Personal Property within ten judicial days (not including weekends or holidays) after the tenant files the motion. (NRS 40.253(8).)
Must the Motion to Contest Personal Property Lien and for Return of Personal Property be served to the landlord?
After tenant files the Motion to Contest Personal Property Lien and for Return of Personal Property, the court is required to state the date of the hearing on the motion and order a copy served on the landlord by the sheriff, constable, or other process server. (NRS 40.253(8).)
Because the hearing on tenant's motion is set on an expedited basis (within ten judicial days of filing), tenant should arrange for service on the landlord immediately after tenant files the motion and receives the hearing date. The constable or sheriff may be unable to serve the landlord on such short notice, in which case the tenant may need to hire a private process server. If the tenant cannot provide the court with proof that the landlord was served (typically, in the form of an affidavit of service), the court may refuse to take any action on tenant's motion.
A form Affidavit of Service is available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download the form to your computer by clicking one of the formats listed under the form's title below:
AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE
What will the judge decide at the hearing?
At the hearing, the court can determine the costs, if any, claimed by the landlord and order the tenant's property released with or without the payment of those costs. (NRS 40.253(8).)
FYI! If you're interested in local community resources for tenants – including building & health code enforcement, low-income and subsidized housing, rent and utility assistance, and shelter and transitional housing – click to visit Housing Resources.