Examining Environmental Hazards in Rental Homes and Habitability Laws in Clark County, Nevada

Jorge Luis Bertran


It is well established that home conditions are linked to the health outcomes of occupants. There are over 880,000 housing units in Clark County, Nevada; nearly half of those are renter-occupied units (ROUs). Currently, there is limited research on the characteristics of environmental hazards found in Clark County ROUs and the strength of habitability statutes created to protect tenants from substandard housing. Understanding how renters in Clark County are affected by environmental hazards in ROUs and the processes by which landlords and tenants resolve grievances related to those hazards would benefit public health. It would enhance the ability to quickly identify which ROUs are at most risk for hazards and allow public health professionals to better plan and implement strategies intended to mitigate or prevent negative health outcomes created by those hazards. This study examined data from the Clark County Landlord and Tenant Hotline Study to answer the following questions: (1) Is there a relationship between the age of ROUs and the types of environmental hazards found in them? (2) Is there is a statistically significant difference in the proportions of hazards remediated by tenants who received a site inspection from the SNHD or sought legal advice in addition to sending a complaint letter to their landlord? (3) Do the age of an ROU, the number of complaints made by each tenant, or complaint category influence the likelihood of remediation? An ANOVA revealed that the average age of ROU’s was statistically significantly different between hazard categories, F(4, 445)= 5.11, p = 0.002. A Bonferroni post hoc analysis revealed mean differences werestatistically significant between essential services (𝑥 ̅= 35.27, SD = 16.59) and mold (𝑥 ̅= 27.64, SD = 12.77; p < 0.05) and essential services and other (𝑥̅ = 23.25, SD = 11.62; p < 0.05). A chi-square test of homogeneity suggested that there was no statistically significant difference in the proportions of hazards remediated by tenants who pursued different levels of intervention, X2 = 1.11, p = 0.292. A binary logistic regression revealed that for each 1-year increase in ROU age, the likelihood of remediation was decreased by 2.5%. For tenants with one complaint, the odds of remediation were 1.75 times (95% CI =1.06 - 2.89) that of tenants with multiple complaints. For complaints categorized as essential, the odds of remediation were 4.15 times (95% CI =1.36 -12.7) that of complaints categorized as non-essential. The results suggest that the mean age ofROU’s with essential service complaints is higher than ROU’s with complaints categorized as mold or other. Furthermore, a tenant’s probability of getting hazards remediated was not significantly increased if they received a site inspection or sought legal advice in addition to sending their landlord a letter. The study suggests that tenants were less likely to get their hazard remediated by their landlords if they had multiple complaints, lived in an older home, or had a non-essential complaint. The results of this study can be used to enhance our abilities to quickly identify which ROUs in Clark County are most at risk for hazards and identify the factors that influence the likelihood of remediation.