3 Ways to Explore
Renting & Leasing
Las Vegas—Renting and Leasing

If you are relocating to the Las Vegas area you may not be ready to purchase another home. In that case there are alternatives to buying a home. Renting, leasing or temporary housing may be the perfect solution for your short- or long-term needs. Whether you are looking for an apartment, townhouse, high-rise, condo or single-family home, you will find that the Las Vegas Valley rental market has something for everyone. Better yet, rental rates in the Las Vegas area are not only very affordable, they have decreased in 2011 from previous years.

While some people strive to obtain homeownership others realize that renting or leasing is a much more suitable decision for the short or long term. After all, you have only just arrived to your new city. With so many things to be done, making a large investment may be handled best after getting acclimated to the area. If you have been relocated by your employer, the chance of another relocation may be in your future; in which case, purchasing a house might not guarantee a return on your investment. Or perhaps you moved from a rental and are not ready to take the plunge into owning your first piece of property. Allowing yourself time to settle into your new environment before committing to homeownership will give you time to get a feel for the Las Vegas area and all that makes this city a unique place.

Most residents seeking a rental in Las Vegas will narrow their search between a house, condo or traditional apartment unit. Renting a home is appealing to those with families and those who do not necessarily want to live near the city commotion. The inventory of houses for rent in the area has increased recently and rates are competitive. Condo rentals are burgeoning due to tighter Fannie Mae guidelines on condo loans, which have some owners holding on to their property longer by renting the units until the market is more favorable for sellers. However, in terms of location and amenities, apartments offer the greatest selection. Units are abundant and can be found in and around the city. As reported by CBRE, Las Vegas has averaged 5,300 new units completed annually in the past 14 years. With rental rates down across the board, apartment owners now are offering incentives to attract prospective renters. These incentives can be one month of free rent or even a complimentary flat-screen TV or iPad for signing a lease.

Leverage the fact that you have many options by asking for move-in specials or discounted rent. Property managers are aware that there is fierce competition to obtain and keep high occupancy so negotiating for the best deal is within your rights and never hurts to ask.

Some Las Vegas newcomers find themselves needing an in-between place to live. They are not ready to purchase, but they also are not ready to rent, which is a common occurrence with people relocating to new cities for their jobs. You might be expected to hit the ground running, leaving finding a permanent place to live as a secondary concern. Corporate housing, extended-stay hotels and furnished apartments are ideal for these situations. These options offer the comforts of home with the ability to stay only a few nights or a few weeks. The accommodations usually include a kitchen, separate living and dining areas, washer and dryer access, cable TV, fitness center, pool and self-parking.

Whether you are hunting for your rental online or in person, it will be helpful to navigate through the process by first evaluating your needs. The following factors have been identified as features to keep in mind. If you are working with a professional to find your apartment, creating a list will be a tool they can use while searching on your behalf. Explain what you are flexible about and what is essential.

Pets: If you are relocating with your pet, inquiring about pet policies is the first thing to do. There is no sense in finding an apartment that fits you perfectly only to learn that your pet is not welcome. Many rentals have strict policies when it comes to pets; violating them could forfeit your security deposit and leave you looking for a new a place to live. Some might not allow them at all while others might just require an additional security deposit or a slight increase in rent. In some cases, the deposit can be pretty high and may not be refundable. Ask plenty of questions if you’re unsure. Keep in mind that even when pets are allowed, if you have a big dog that growls at children or barks all night long, you probably will be asked to leave.

Living Space: Generally it is better to have too much space than too little because if you go too small, you will either be living with clutter or spending extra money to put some of your belongings in a storage facility. For minimal storage, many apartments will at least have a small storage closet, usually accessed from the porch or balcony. Some offer additional on-site storage space for an extra fee. If your intention is to sign a short-term lease while finding a more permanent residence, make sure there is a storage facility nearby. You can find more information about storing your items in the Moving to Las Vegas chapter of this publication.

Kitchen, Bedrooms and Bathrooms: Kitchens can be the core of a home and, if utilized, require adequate counter space, cabinets and a pantry to store food. If cooking will be minimal, find out if there are restaurants conveniently located nearby or search for a high-rise with room service. When deciding on the number of bedrooms you require, do not forget to factor in the size of the rooms, the possibilities of out-of-town guests and converting one bedroom to an office. Ceiling fans are especially useful in homes and help keep air circulating even when the air conditioning is not on. This may not be important to some, but others want a ceiling fan in every room. Moreover, not every bathroom was created equal. Do you need a tub in every one, or can you get by with shower stalls? Don’t forget to turn on the shower to check the water pressure.

Appliances: Most high-end rentals come standard with a refrigerator, washer and dryer, dishwasher, oven, stove and microwave. Decide whether you need to sell any appliances you currently own before you move. If you must purchase appliances not supplied by the rental, factor that cost into your monthly rent for the duration of your lease to determine the true value of the unit.

Utilities: Many rental complexes will include some sort of cable TV package, but if you need every channel that exists, do your research. Some apartments might not let you put up a dish so keep that in mind if you’re using services, such as DirecTV or Dish Network. If a particular phone or Internet-service provider is important to you, make sure they service your area by asking the landlord or going to the provider’s website and entering the property’s ZIP code in the service-area box.

All apartment residents pay for water, some through their rent, some separately. As water becomes more expensive, many owners are using submeters or a water-allocation system to directly bill residents for water.

Parking: Do not overlook parking space, especially if you have more than one vehicle or if you live in a neighborhood known to have a shortage of street parking. If you check during the day, there could be plenty of available parking spaces, but how about at night when everyone is home from work? The weekends also can be misleading with so many professionals working varied schedules. It is best to inquire about peak hours and visit the property then. Ask the landlord whether parking spaces are available at a monthly charge or included in your rent.

Activities: Many places will have at least a few of the following available: basketball court, swimming pool, gym, tennis courts, fitness center, walking trails, picnic areas, pet areas and maybe even a play area for children. Other properties have gone beyond the typical and offer activities normally reserved for resorts.

Contrary to popular belief, the Las Vegas Valley is a dynamic region with many different communities. Each location offers a different perspective of valley life. From moderate to affluent, the neighborhoods in and around Las Vegas are distinct and vibrant.

Outside the Las Vegas city limits is the Green Valley area in the city of Henderson. Occupying the southeast corner of the Las Vegas Valley, Henderson is a fast-growing area with a population of approximately 258,000, making it the second largest city in the state. Henderson is home to the Galleria at Sunset Mall, the campuses of many local colleges and universities and various hotels, casinos and restaurants. Henderson is very close to Boulder City and the south end of Lake Mead.

The Nellis Air Force Base was established in 1950 and is home to the famous Thunderbirds. The Nellis area occupies the northeast part of the Las Vegas Valley. Nellis is situated between the Sunrise Mountains on the east, I-15 on the west and north and Lake Boulevard on the south. This area is great for military and civilian personnel working at the Nellis Air Force Base.

Located directly west and reasonably close to the Strip is Spring Valley. This suburban area is rectangular with I-215 cutting through the middle to allow for easy freeway access, but sometimes unfavorable traffic congestion during peak hours. The diverse population enjoys the nearby Desert Breeze Park, which has a pool and water playground. Spring Valley has been ranked a “Best Place to Live” by CNN Money.

Among the most desirable places in the Las Vegas Valley is Summerlin, which sits along a broad area next to the Spring Mountains on the west side of the valley. Summerlin is a master-planned community situated near schools and shopping. With short drives to the Red Rock Canyon Natural Conservation Area and downtown Las Vegas lets Summerlin residents enjoy the city and the outlying areas. In addition, Summerlin is at a higher elevation than much of the area, making for cooler temperatures and great views of the entire valley.

The Sunrise part of Las Vegas is centered around Sunrise Manor, a large unincorporated area on the far east side of the Las Vegas Valley. This relatively large, ethnically diverse area is at the base of Frenchman Mountain and the Sunrise Mountains. Along with stunning views of the city, Sunrise Manor hosts local chains, such as Wal-Mart.

Sculpted from colorful desert terrain of Southern Nevada, the Lakes area lies nestled within the desert mountainside 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip. The area’s manmade lakes provide beautiful scenery and opportunities for fishing as well. The area is a resort community of its own and offers homes, condos and apartments. The Lakes is not to be confused with Lake Las Vegas, which is on the far eastern part of the valley.

More than 32,000 students and employees attend or work at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), which is located on Maryland Parkway between Flamingo Road and Tropicana Avenue, one mile east of the Strip. The college community keeps busy with cultural activities, performing arts and plenty of dining options.

Winchester is a small, five-square-mile area located on the east side of Las Vegas close to the Strip, UNLV and Boulder Highway. Winchester is just minutes away from Sunrise Hospital, Las Vegas National Golf Club and the Boulevard Mall.

The apartment community of Avanti is northwest of the valley near Mount Charleston and Floyd Lamb State Park. The property has resort-inspired amenities, such as an outdoor entertainment area with cabanas. The units have large vanities and garden tubs, and major hiking and biking trails are just a few minutes away.

With so many on-site activities and resources, the residents of the Quest apartment complex, located in Henderson, can stay occupied without ever needing to leave home. A designer club room, demonstration kitchen, custom multimedia theater and tanning salon make Quest a great place to rent.

Stay close to the city action and above the noise level at the Cambridge Park Towers. This pet-friendly gated community has an Olympic-size swimming pool and on-site convenience store. Enjoy the views of high-rise living from the expansive balconies with 12-foot patio doors.

Near the exclusive Canyon Gate Country Club neighborhood are the Oasis Sierra apartment homes. With features like a garage, three-bedroom floor plans and gas fireplaces, tenants benefit from features not normally available with apartments.

The two-story apartment complex of Gloria Park Villas is located on the west side of I-15 and is easily accessible to McCarran International Airport. A fitness center, package receiving and short-term leases are some of the services provided.

In addition to affordable rents in the area, amenities provided by many apartment complexes in Las Vegas are considered luxuries in other U.S. cities. Expect to find conveniences, such as disability access, some paid utilities, balconies or patios, cable-ready outlets, emergency maintenance, laundry facilities, outdoor pools, hot tubs and spas. Many have tennis courts, basketball facilities, billiard rooms, playgrounds and fitness facilities outfitted to rival private gyms. Also available at many complexes are limited-access gates, dry cleaners, detailed landscaping and basic cable TV. Some apartments have extravagant clubhouses with big-screen TVs, executive business centers, parking garages, sundecks, gazebos, elevators and video-monitored limited-access entries.

Interior features considered standard for most Las Vegas apartments include heating, air conditioning, miniblinds, ceiling fans, fully equipped kitchens with a dishwasher and multiple phone lines.

Other features might include nine-foot ceilings, crown molding, oval garden tubs, bay windows, fireplaces or garages or covered parking. In addition, some communities have resident programs that include free and optional services, such as maids, concierges, aerobic classes, guest suites for visitors, free shuttle services and car detailing centers.

After searching, weighing your options and deciding on the property to rent, you will want to get settled into your new home as soon as possible. Luckily, many buildings offer Virtual Leasing Offices on their websites that allow you to start the application process 24 hours a day. Before applying for a rental, you may want to check out your credit record with a report from a consumer-reporting agency to clear up any problems or mistakes on your record. Identity thieves can wreak havoc on your credit without your knowledge, and correcting the damage will need to be started right away because it takes time.

Most apartment communities use standard leases and will require a security deposit ranging from a few hundred dollars to the amount of one month of rent. Under Nevada law, no more than the amount of three months’ rent is permitted. Standard leases cover 6 or 12 months although some communities now offer 7- and 13-month terms. Information and documents to have accessible during the application process include state or federal ID or driver’s license, current and former addresses, current and past employment with dates, credit references, copy of credit report (if available) and bank information.

Before you sign any rental agreement, make sure you’ve been given a tour of the exact home or apartment that you’re going to rent and not a standard model. If there are any problems with the house or apartment you’ll be moving into, provide a detailed list and give it to the landlord or owner. Indicate that you want these items repaired before you move in. If these items are not fixed by the time you move in, document the things that still need to be repaired or replaced in writing and with photographs. Send a copy to the landlord or owner, and keep a copy for yourself. These things should include any chips in the walls, broken appliances and anything in the space that looks worn or deteriorated. In the event that a deposit is withheld for any of these items, you now have proof that they were there before you moved in.

It’s a good idea to request that the locks are changed before you move into your new place. Once new keys are made, ask the landlord or owner to tell you who has copies of the keys. Usually, the only other people who should have access to your home are the owner or landlord.

When you live in an apartment, you have both rights and responsibilities. Make sure you know what is expected of you and what you can expect in return. All pertinent information will be found in your rental agreement or lease.

You have a right to demand that the landlord repair any condition that materially affects your health and safety. Under Nevada law, by renting you the property, the landlord guarantees that the unit will be a fit place to live.

Most apartment complexes employ full-time maintenance workers to handle the repairs and perform preventive maintenance, with some offering 24-hour emergency-repair services. If leasing from an owner, be sure to establish the responsibilities for repairs and maintenance.

Depending on your lease, the owner may or may not be responsible for minor problems, such as leaky faucets or issues with appliances. However, if the landlord will not make repairs needed to protect your health, safety or security and you follow the procedures required by law, you may be entitled to do the following:
  • End the lease.
  • Have the problem repaired and deduct the cost of the repair from the rent.
  • File suit to force the landlord to make the repairs.

If the owner or landlord is unresponsive to repairing major problems or avoids meeting with you for any other major dispute after you’ve moved in, take the following steps in this order:
  1. Submit a repair request in writing.
  2. If this is not acted upon, propose mediation with the owner. There are independent agencies that will hear both sides of a case and help the parties in the dispute come to a reasonable agreement.
  3. If mediation fails to bring about a resolution, report the owner and your rental home to a local housing authority or building agency. Most often this agency can apply the needed pressure for the owner to understand the importance of your issues and help rectify any problem.
  4. Only if there are no other recourse options should you consider suing the owner in small claims court. While the outcome could damage the reputation of the owner, if the lawsuit is financial in nature, it may also reflect negatively on your credit report.

In Nevada, the Silver State Fair Housing Council (www.silverstatefairhousing.org) advocates for equal access to housing in Nevada and provides education and outreach about fair housing rights, processes discrimination complaints and conducts investigations.

Deposit recovery. Most landlords require you to pay a security deposit to cover any repairs needed when you move out or your failure to pay the last month’s rent. By law, landlords cannot refuse to return the deposit without a valid reason. If you give your landlord your new address in writing, and you do not receive your deposit or an explanation of deductions within 30 days of your departure, contact the landlord. If you cannot resolve the problem satisfactorily, you may wish to consult an attorney. You also can contact the Better Business Bureau or your local tenants’ council. Lastly, you can file a complaint with the office of the Attorney General of Nevada.

Deductions for damages. The landlord must return the deposit—less any amount deducted for damages—within 30 days. Do not forget to leave a forwarding address so the deposit can be sent back to you. If the landlord withholds part or all of your deposit, he or she must give you an itemized list of deductions with a description of the damages.

Normal wear and tear. The landlord may not charge you for normal wear and tear on the premises and may only charge for actual abnormal damage. If the carpet simply becomes more worn because you and your guests walked on it for a year, the landlord may not charge you for a new carpet. If your waterbed leaks and the carpet becomes mildewed as a result, you may be charged.

Advance notice requirements. Check your rental agreement to see if it requires you to give the landlord advance notice that you are moving. Many leases require 30 days’ notice as a condition of returning your deposit.

Rent increase. The landlord has the right to raise your rent if not prohibited by a lease agreement; however, a 45-day written notice of the increase must be mailed to the tenant before the increase goes into effect.

Renters insurance. Although it is not required by Nevada law, an affordable way to safeguard against unforeseen occurrences and protect against personal losses is having renters insurance. Depending on the policy, renters insurance averages under $100 a month for thousands of dollars worth of coverage. Your lease likely contains a clause that states that the owner will not be liable for any damages to the resident’s personal belongings or to that person except in cases where a disaster occurred due to the owner’s own negligence; then the resident has a course of action.

Guests. It is normal to want to share the amenities that have drawn you to your apartment, but landlords usually have policies about your guests’ amenity usage. Whether it is a maximum number of guests allowed per tenant or necessary accompaniment with your guest, it is best to avoid breaking the rules by inquiring with the landlord first.

The surest way to stay in compliance while at your rental is always to keep your lease handy so you can reference it often. If you know your rights, know the rights of the property owner and take the right course of action when needed and you will be more likely to avoid problems.

If buying a home is not right for you or your lifestyle, Las Vegas provides many excellent and affordable renting and leasing options so you can settle right away into your new city.
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