Demystifying Nevada’s Fair Housing Act: A Look at Tenant Rights

Nevada's Fair Housing Act

The quest for fair and equitable housing is an enduring struggle that spans across the United States. In Nevada, this quest is governed by the Fair Housing Act, a critical piece of legislation aimed at protecting the rights of tenants. This comprehensive guide seeks to shed light on the nuances of this Act, providing renters with the information they need to safeguard their rights. We will explore the history, details, and specific protections offered by Nevada’s Fair Housing Act, while also briefly comparing it to federal law and similar acts in other states for a comprehensive understanding.

Understanding Nevada’s Fair Housing Act

Overview and History of the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act, originally passed on a federal level in 1968, was a landmark legislation in the Civil Rights Movement. This law outlawed the refusal to sell, rent, or negotiate housing based on race, religion, national origin, or color. It was later expanded in 1974 to include sex, and in 1988 to protect against discrimination based on disability or familial status.

Similarly, Nevada enacted its own state-level Fair Housing Act. While the federal law provides a foundation, the state’s laws often provide additional protections and clarity specific to the unique circumstances and population demographics of Nevada.

Details of Nevada’s Fair Housing Act: What it is and Who it Protects

The Nevada Fair Housing Act mirrors the federal law, but also expands upon it. Under Nevada’s law, it is illegal to discriminate against any person seeking to rent or buy housing based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, familial status, or national origin. The Act also includes specific protections for those who are pregnant or securing custody of any minor.

What sets Nevada’s law apart is its broad definition of “housing.” In Nevada, this extends beyond traditional apartments and homes to include mobile homes, any land sold for the construction of a building, and even commercial properties.

The Fair Housing Act in Nevada also applies to a wide array of individuals and entities. This includes landlords, real estate brokers, builders, banks, and other lending institutions. Basically, anyone involved in the renting, selling, or financing of homes must abide by these rules.

Brief Comparison to Federal Law and Other States for Context

While Nevada’s Fair Housing Act closely mirrors the federal Fair Housing Act, it does provide some additional protections not found in the federal law. Specifically, Nevada’s law includes protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, which the federal law does not explicitly address.

When compared to other states, Nevada’s law is fairly comprehensive. For instance, unlike Nevada, several states do not include protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. On the other hand, some states, such as California and New York, include additional protected categories like military status and source of income.

The Role of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC)

The Purpose and Responsibilities of NERC

The Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC) is a crucial agency tasked with enforcing the Fair Housing Act within the state. Its primary responsibility is to promote equal opportunity in employment, public accommodations, and housing, which it accomplishes through education, outreach, and enforcement.

NERC investigates complaints of discrimination, provides training and consultation to businesses and public services, and acts as a resource for individuals who believe their rights have been violated. This agency plays a vital role in maintaining fair practices in Nevada’s housing market.

How NERC Assists in Enforcing Nevada’s Fair Housing Act

NERC assists in enforcing Nevada’s Fair Housing Act by investigating complaints, conducting hearings, and providing remedies when discrimination is found. If a resident of Nevada believes they have been a victim of housing discrimination, they can file a complaint with NERC.

After a complaint is filed, NERC carries out an investigation. If there’s enough evidence to support the claim, NERC can take corrective action. This could include ordering that a complainant be given the housing they were denied, requiring a policy change to prevent future discrimination, or even imposing penalties on the offending party.

Contact Information for NERC for Those Who Need Assistance

If you believe you have experienced discrimination, you can contact NERC through the following channels:

Key Aspects of Tenant Rights under Nevada’s Fair Housing Act

Prohibited Discriminatory Practices

Under Nevada’s Fair Housing Act, several discriminatory practices are strictly prohibited. These include:

  • Refusing to sell or rent a house after a bona fide offer has been made.
  • Applying different terms or conditions for selling or renting a property.
  • Making false representations about the availability of a dwelling.
  • Advertising in a way that indicates preference, limitation, or discrimination.
  • Retaliating against anyone for exercising their rights under the Fair Housing Act.

Right to Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications

Persons with disabilities have the right to reasonable accommodations and modifications under Nevada’s Fair Housing Act. This means landlords and housing providers must make or allow modifications to existing premises, provided that these modifications are necessary for the person with a disability to use and enjoy the dwelling. This could include installing wheelchair ramps or modifying cabinets or countertops.

Equal Opportunity in Selecting and Purchasing a Home

The Act also ensures equal opportunity in choosing and purchasing a home. It is illegal to steer potential buyers or renters toward or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. It also prohibits banks and other lending institutions from engaging in discriminatory lending practices.

Delving into Discrimination: Unlawful Practices to Be Aware Of

Housing Discrimination: What It Looks Like

Housing discrimination refers to the unjust or prejudicial treatment of individuals or groups in relation to the rental, sale, or financing of housing based on certain protected characteristics. It’s not just refusing to sell or rent to someone – it can take many forms, including unfair terms, conditions, or privileges for certain people, or providing different services or facilities to different individuals.

Recognizing Signs of Discrimination Based on Race, Color, Religion, National Origin, Sex, Familial Status, and Disability

Signs of housing discrimination can often be subtle and difficult to recognize. It might manifest as a landlord claiming an apartment has already been rented when it hasn’t, or a bank offering different loan terms to different people without a clear, non-discriminatory reason. Other signs might include a landlord refusing to make reasonable accommodations for a person with a disability or a housing advertisement that indicates a preference for people of a certain religion or race.

Real-Life Examples and Cases of Discrimination in Nevada

In one recent Nevada case, a property management company was found to be in violation of the Fair Housing Act for refusing to rent a condo to a woman and her son because the child was under the age of 18. The court ruled that this was a clear case of discrimination based on familial status.

In another case, a Nevada landlord was charged with discrimination after she refused to rent a property to a Hispanic family. Despite the family meeting all rental requirements, they were told the unit was no longer available – a classic sign of potential discrimination.

Fair Housing and Landlord-Tenant Relationships

Landlord Responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act

Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords have a responsibility to treat all potential and existing tenants equally, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. This includes providing equal opportunity in the rental, negotiation for rental, and provision of services or facilities in connection with the rental.

Landlords must also make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, such as allowing a tenant to make necessary modifications to the property, at the tenant’s expense, for their comfort and safety.

How to Deal with Potential Discriminatory Practices by Landlords

If you believe that your landlord is engaging in discriminatory practices, there are a few steps you can take. First, document all interactions with your landlord that lead you to believe you are being discriminated against. Next, contact the Nevada Equal Rights Commission or a local fair housing organization to discuss your concerns and learn more about your options. If necessary, you may need to consider taking legal action.

Understanding Your Rights in Eviction Proceedings

If you’re facing eviction, it’s essential to understand that the Fair Housing Act provides certain protections. For instance, landlords cannot use eviction as a form of retaliation if you have asserted your rights under the Fair Housing Act. Moreover, landlords cannot evict tenants based on discriminatory reasons. If you believe your eviction is discriminatory, contact a local fair housing organization or the Nevada Equal Rights Commission for assistance.

Steps for Filing a Housing Discrimination Complaint in Nevada

When and Why You Might Need to File a Complaint

If you believe you have been a victim of housing discrimination in Nevada, it is important to file a complaint. Whether it’s being denied housing, offered unequal terms, or retaliated against for asserting your rights, no act of discrimination is too small to be addressed.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Complaint Process

  1. Documentation: Compile all relevant documents and evidence of the discrimination, such as emails, texts, or letters.
  2. Contact NERC: Reach out to the Nevada Equal Rights Commission. You can file your complaint in person, by mail, or via their website.
  3. Filing the Complaint: Fill out the complaint form provided by NERC. It should include details about the incident(s), information about the accused party, and any supporting evidence.
  4. Wait for Investigation: After the complaint is filed, NERC will investigate the matter, which may include interviewing the parties involved and collecting additional evidence.

What to Expect After a Complaint is Filed

After a complaint is filed, NERC will notify the alleged discriminator and start an investigation. This process may take several months. If the investigation finds substantial evidence of discrimination, NERC will attempt to resolve the issue through conciliation. If conciliation fails, a public hearing will be held, or the case may be referred to court.

Resources for Nevada Tenants

List of Organizations and Agencies Providing Help and Guidance

Several organizations and agencies provide assistance for Nevada tenants:

  • Nevada Equal Rights Commission: They can provide guidance and accept complaints of housing discrimination.
  • Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada: This nonprofit offers free legal assistance to low-income Nevadans.
  • Nevada Legal Services: They offer free legal aid to low-income residents and seniors across Nevada.
  • Silver State Fair Housing Council: A nonprofit dedicated to ensuring equal housing for all Nevadans.

Legal Aid Options for Tenants Facing Discrimination

Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada and Nevada Legal Services are two excellent resources for tenants who need legal representation but can’t afford it. These organizations can provide advice, help prepare complaints, and in some cases, represent tenants in court.


The path to fair housing in Nevada is paved with robust laws and vigilant enforcement agencies. Understanding your rights as a tenant under Nevada’s Fair Housing Act is critical to ensure you are treated fairly and equally. From recognizing signs of discrimination to filing a complaint, tenants are armed with legal protections and resources. By leveraging these rights and resources, Nevadans can contribute to a more equitable, fair, and inclusive housing landscape.