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Senior Spectrum Publications

January 2017

Senior Law Project Helps Seniors Stay in Their Homes, Avoid Eviction

by Connie McMullen

A best kept secret in northern Nevada is the Senior Law Project, housed at the Washoe County Senior Center on 9th and Sutro.

The SLP, operated by Nevada Legal Services, assists seniors 60-years and older with wills, power of attorney, lifesaving declarations, landlord-tenant problems, consumer debts, and a wide range of other issues. Directing Attorney George McNally says the SLP handles about 5-6,000 cases annually ranging from debt transfers to bankruptcies. "The seniors come in faced with a legitimate crisis, most are debt related. Landlordtenant matters are the biggest area of concern," he said, adding, "seniors are scared to death. Most are a month away from being homeless."

Landlord-tenant issues right now are critical. McNally says there has been an increase of seniors facing evictions. "That is a crisis issue. If someone walks in and I am working on someone's probate and estate planning, and another person walks in and says they have five days before they are evicted, I will work with the emergency first."

Northern Nevada also has a housing shortage. A Task Force has been assembled consisting of community leaders and government agencies to figure out what can be done. McNally said the housing shortage is countywide, and extends into rural northern Nevada. "People find themselves in that situation for numerous untold reasons. In many cases, a landlord wants to rid themselves of a senior so that they can charge more money for rent. Landlords predominately will move forward on an eviction without following the mandatory, statutory obligations of things that have to be done in order to take someone out of their home. It's not just signing a piece a paper," he said. "They better do it right or they will find me to deal with."

McNally says he has a landlord "dead to rights" if they do not consider withdrawing the eviction notice because they lack proper papers. "I will see you in the courtroom and I will not be nice to you."

Often landlords will go about an eviction without giving the tenant's living situation much thought. "Once a person has an eviction notice that notice stays with them at least five years. So when they go to find another apartment to move into that landlord will see there is a prior eviction on their record. That person is going to be relegated to find a place in a less desirable place in town, such as getting a motel room infected with all type of vermin. The evicted tenant is stereotyped." This is extremely hard on people who are retired, living on a fixed income and have no money coming in to find a place to live.

"If I have a situation where I have to temporarily place someone, I might have to call Catholic Charities or Washoe County Senior Services Social Workers to figure things out. Sometimes people have a pet that may be left behind when they are taken out of their homes in an emergency." The SLP will work with animal services to make arrangements for the pets left behind.

The SLP is located in the Washoe County Senior Center at 9th and Sutro, in Reno. Seniors who need help can contact the SLP at 775-334-3050.



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