City of Reno, nonprofit help renters learn rights

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The City of Reno is partnering with Washoe Legal Services (WSL) in hosting public seminars about renters' rights during October 2019 at Reno City Hall. At the first meeting, held Monday, October 7, 2019, code enforcement officers with the city and lawyers from WSL discussed what to do if tenants have bedbugs and how code enforcement can help.

According to the City of Reno's housing code law, any landlord within city limits that is earning money from renting a property must provide water, hot water and heat. Those three are considered essential services in Reno.

If any of those items are not working properly in your rented apartment or home, you're asked to first call the Reno Direct line at 775-334-INFO or via email at renodirect@reno.gov. A city code enforcement officer will then take immediate action with the landlord to get that issue fixed. The officer will conduct an inspection to validate the issue. If the landlord refuses to comply within 48 hours, a citation or pursuing criminal charges could take place.

"We need to as a community make sure people are informed and know what their rights are so they're living in a safe place especially as winter rolls around, Oscar Delgado, Reno City Councilman for Ward Three said, "We want to make sure they're living in a warm and dry environment."

If a tenant has other issues not revolving around water, hot water or heat, those are described as non-essential services. Those may include air conditioning or bedbugs. Code enforcement is still able to help with these issues.

"We don't allow a landlord to come out with a can of Raid and say this is our way to take care of the situation," Alex Woodley, Code Enforcement Officer with the City of Reno said, "We need proof that they've addressed it through a licensed contractor that knows what they're doing."

Again, a city code enforcement officer will take action with the landlord to get the issue fixed. The officer will conduct an inspection to validate the issue. If the landlord refuses to comply within 14 days, a citation or pursuing criminal charges could take place.

"We're talking about seniors, we're talking about families, we're talking about kids that are in some of these environments so we want to make sure they have electricity and warm water and don't have mold or bedbugs," Delgado said.

For additional help with these issues, tenants can seek free legal help with Washoe Legal Services, a nonprofit helping low-income individuals have access to the legal system. Lawyers say to always have a paper trail of documentation with a landlord when dealing with essential or non-essential service issues.

There are two more seminars happening this month:
-Monday, October 14, 2019 on eviction rules and procedures
-Monday, October 21, 2019 on eviction sealing

The meetings are held at 5:30 p.m. at the Reno City Hall Council Chamber at 1 E. First St. downtown. The seminars are also available to livestream on the City of Reno Facebook page. A Spanish translator will be available.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019