A landlord is not always required to evict a tenant through the court to regain possession of a rental property. Learn how to tell whether a rental property has been "abandoned" under Nevada law and how to provide the required notice of abandonment to the tenant.
CAUTION! Unless your tenant has surrendered or abandoned possession of the rental property, you must file an eviction case in order to remove the tenant! (NRS 118A.480.) If you lock the tenant out of the property, use force or threats to remove the tenant, or terminate the tenant's utilities or services, you could be sued by the tenant and punished by the court.
A landlord can peacefully retake possession of a rental property if the tenant "surrenders" or "abandons" the property. (NRS 118A.480.)
It should be fairly easy for a landlord to tell when a tenant "surrenders" the rental property. Ideally, the tenant will notify the landlord that tenant intends to leave, move all of tenant's belongings, and hand the keys to the landlord. In other words, the tenant will voluntarily relinquish to the landlord all indications of any right to possess the property.
It might seem that a landlord could similarly tell when a rental property has been "abandoned." But there are some special considerations under Nevada law that the landlord should be aware of before declaring the property abandoned.
Q&A - Abandonment
When is a property presumed to be abandoned?
For residential property, Nevada law presumes that the tenant has abandoned the property if the tenant is absent from the unit for half of the time for which tenant pays rent (in other words, if the tenant pays rent monthly, tenant would need to be absent for at least half of the month) unless:
- The rent is current, or
- The tenant has notified the landlord, in writing, of an intended absence.
What can the landlord do if he knows that the property has been abandoned?
If the landlord has notice that a residential property has been abandoned (either because it is "presumed" abandoned, as discussed above, or because the tenant told the landlord that the property is being abandoned), the landlord can recover possession of the property and can dispose of the tenant's personal property in compliance with Nevada law. (NRS 118A.450.) Click to read Personal Property Left Behind for more information.
What can the landlord do if he believes that the property has been abandoned, but does not have actual notice?
If the landlord does not have actual notice that the property has been abandoned (as discussed above), but reasonably believes that it has been, the landlord of either residential or commercial property can serve the tenant with a written notice of landlord's belief that the property has been abandoned if:
- The landlord reasonably believes that his tenant has abandoned the property, and
- The tenant is in default in the payment of rent.
What if the landlord's belief that the tenant abandoned the rental property is not reasonable?
The rental property will not be deemed abandoned if the tenant can prove that when the landlord served the notice of abandonment:
- The tenant was not in default in the payment of rent; or
- It was not reasonable for the landlord to believe that the tenant had abandoned the property.
What are the requirements for a written notice of landlord's belief of abandonment to the tenant?
The written notice of landlord's belief of abandonment to the tenant must be served like an eviction notice under NRS 40.280(1). (Click to read Filing a Summary Eviction to learn more.) It must advise the tenant of the provisions of NRS 118.195, and it must specify:
- The address or other location of the property;
- The date upon which the property will be deemed abandoned and the rental agreement terminated (which must be at least five days after service of the notice of abandonment); and
- An address for payment of the rent due and delivery of notice to the landlord.
What can the tenant who receives a notice of landlord's belief of abandonment do to prevent the property from being deemed abandoned?
A tenant who receives a notice of abandonment from the landlord must – within five days after service of the notice – do all of the following:
- Pay the rent due,
- Provide the landlord with a written notice stating that tenant does not intend to abandon the property, and
- Include in the written notice an address at which the tenant may be served with legal process.
What is the tenant’s liability for abandoning a rental property?
If a tenant abandons a rental property, the landlord must make reasonable efforts to re-rent the unit at a fair rental price. If the landlord makes reasonable efforts, the landlord can recover his actual damages resulting from the abandonment. If the landlord does not make reasonable efforts, the landlord is limited to the actual damages that occurred before the landlord had reason to believe that the property was abandoned. (NRS 118.175.)