No More Evictions
By Vin Suprynowicz
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
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 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
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
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
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,
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
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.