T
H
E

L
I
B
E
R
T
A
R
I
A
N

E
N
T
E
R
P
R
I
S
E


I
s
s
u
e

26


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 26, April 15, 1997

No More Evictions

By Vin Suprynowicz
vin@lvrj.com

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         Nevada State Assemblyman David Goldwater complains "State law is heavily weighted in favor of the landlord. ... (Tenants) need to have privileges under the law at least equal to that of the landlord."
         Therefore, Assemblyman Goldwater has submitted Assembly Bill 303, which would expand the "tenants' rights" section of current Nevada law.
         But the main thrust of the bill is that "A landlord shall not terminate a tenancy except for cause," specifying, "The tenant may bring an action challenging the decision of the landlord to terminate the tenancy."
         The court would then be instructed to "issue an order requiring the landlord to pay all costs relating to the proceeding; and forbidding the termination of the tenancy," should the court finds that the grounds for termination "violate any provision of NRS or federal law."
         On its face, this proposal appears to change nothing. Surely tenants already have the right to go to court if they believe their eviction "violates any provision" of state or federal law, and a fair expectation the courts might award them court costs should they prevail.
         But here's where the proposal gets circular. The Nevada Revised Statutes would now contain AB303, which specifies that "A landlord shall not terminate a tenancy except for cause."
         And what, pray tell, is "cause?"
         We tend to think of all landlords as the faceless owners of huge apartment complexes. But what if a private homeowner shows the entrepreneurial initiative to fix up an apartment above the garage, and rent it out? What if, shortly thereafter, the homeowner's sister calls to report she's left her abusive husband, with the kids, and is now staying in a motel she can ill afford. Can she have the garage apartment?
         Assuming the current tenants lack a lease, both current law and common decency would allow the owner to give them notice that he needs the premises in about 30 days.
         But even then, would "having a sister who suddenly needs a place to stay" constitute "cause," under this proposed law? It seems safe to guess the courts would rule otherwise. "Cause," in the legal context, tends to mean wrongdoing, and clearly here the tenant would have done nothing to warrant an "eviction."
         Presto: the property now has a co-owner, effectively for life.
         Both common sense and experience tell us that -- the more legal entanglements are layered onto a given undertaking -- the less attractive such an investment becomes.
         That means fewer and fewer apartments will be built. The inexorable laws of supply and demand will then drive the price of existing apartments through the roof.
         Does Assemblyman Goldwater warn tenants how much average rents will rise -- have already risen, in other jurisdictions that have given this a try -- under such a scheme? He does not.
         Perhaps that's because he already knows the next likely step, under von Mises' law -- rent control, and laws forbidding the "greedy" owners of rental property to tear down their buildings in favor of something they're free to manage as they see fit.
         Underlying this whole proposal is the addled socialist/utopian vision of government micromanagement that typified the discredited Hillarycare scheme to take over the nation's health care industry -- a plan drawn up by a huge committee of hard-scribbling bureaucrats which included, believe it or not, now-Assemblyman David Goldwater, D-Las Vegas.
         Mr. Goldwater speaks of awarding tenants "privileges under the law at least equal to that of the landlord." How revealing. The landlord owns the property. He bought it; he pays taxes on it. Yet, in Mr. Goldwater's twisted world-view, the law "grants the landlord the privilege" of using his property in certain, carefully restricted, ways.
         Honing in on the dreaded "P" word, Mr. Goldwater even asserted, in a March 28 letter to me: "Once the choice is made to offer that property for rental, the land owner then has given up some of her rights in return for a profit."
         But will everything truly now be "equal"? If the tenant has a right to squat indefinitely on someone else's land, presumably at a rent which can never be substantially raised (Surely Mr. Goldwater won't sit still if landlords respond by simply saying, "Sure you can stay; the rent is now $4,000 a month," will he?), do landlords have an equal right to count on an uninterrupted flow of rental fees? That is to say, will the law and the courts enforce an equally draconian restriction on the former "privilege" of tenants leaving whenever the whim may strike them, "without cause"?
         Of course not. Sure, the principle would be the same ... but who, in such a vote-grubbing enterprise, can be said to have "principles"?


Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.



Next to advance to the next article, or Previous to return to the previous article, or Index to return to The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 26, April 15, 1997.