Forced to Move After Latest Rent Price Spike
Brooke Noble lived in her neighborly quadplex near Wells Avenue for four years. When she first moved in she says her rent was $525 per month on a one year lease. Since then, rent was increased about $100 every year and hit an all time high this year. Noble recently received an email indicating her rent was going from $725 to $1,050 per month. She is not alone facing this kind of a predicament.
“I feel like it's pushing a lot of people, including myself, out further and further away from like the heart of Reno and out of Nevada as a whole. I think that's changing our community. [...] It's pushing out people who have been here for a long time,” Noble said. Her LinkedIn profile indicates her main job is as a System Support Analyst at Barnes and Noble. She also describes herself as “a computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer, and Internet hacktivist.”
Noble thought Reno used to be affordable, accessible, friendly and she enjoyed the 24 hour vibe which convinced her to move here 10 years ago. She loves the Midtown area and tried negotiating with her landlord to pay $900 a month but she says her offer was rejected. The new rent offer was then pulled away and she was asked to vacate.
At the end of May she said she is planning to move to a studio near Verdi which is less expensive but smaller. The new place also doesn’t have high speed internet which Noble needs for her work. She also expects she will have to pay to keep her belongings in storage.
Saying Goodbye to Close Neighbors and Getting Media Attention
After hearing of her rent increase, Noble began talking with her neighbors about it. After initial feelings that City Council was ignoring her issue, Noble hosted a “Rent Protest and BBQ” with others in her complex, friends and other renters facing increased rent prices.
The goal was to raise awareness and give other renters a chance to share their stories. Noble said at the same time she’s also enjoying some of her last days spent with her neighbors.
“I’m going to miss my neighbors,” she said. “Everybody in this building, we're (a) pretty tight knit. You know, we hang out on Saturdays, we spend time together, we go out to eat together and now we're not going to get to see each other as much anymore.”
Noble isn’t the only being forced to leave. All other tenants were given a 30 day notice to vacate the property. This was especially shocking to Noble’s upstairs neighbor Craig who was previously offered a year long lease renewal for $950 a month. Shortly after Noble shared her story with KTVN, their landlord took back the lease offer from Craig.
“Don't go from $800 to $1,100 just because you can, when the person that you're renting to may not have the means to cover that and then what are they going to do? You know? They're doing good just to keep a roof over their head. They're paying their bills and then they still get kicked out,” Craig said in disbelief.
The battle may not be over though as an inquiry by Noble with Reno Direct indicated the landlord didn’t have a business license which is a requirement for landlords who own a property with three or more units per parcel. They also wrote back indicating an application is being processed.
Bringing Ideas to City Council and Reddit
Noble recently attended a County Commissioners meeting at City Hall but said she didn’t get a word in and must submit an agenda item to be heard. Noble says she is now waiting to submit until after Senate Bill 398 is passed, feeling this would be more impactful. The bill would reinforce the right of cities and counties to address the affordable housing crisis, including instituting some forms of rent control.
Noble has been in contact with Sparks Democrat Julia Ratti, the bill’s writer, as well, but it’s no guarantee it will become law, with opposition from lawmakers who fear it would stifle development. More about SB 398 can be found here. Noble hopes the bill will pass but she knows City Council might still be resistant to change.
“I think they need to implement some temporary rent controls and [...] our City Council can, you know, adjust those rent controls or turn them off completely as needed. So maybe we turn them on right now cause we're going through a bit of a period where there's very short supply. You got people moving here, but you got people who live here being pushed on the streets. So maybe we turn it on to protect people now and as supply comes up, we turn those down or, you know, as supply is built, you know, perhaps new supply doesn't have rent control supplied to it. Maybe it only applies to existing things. And that can be adjusted because it's going to be managed at the city level, you know, where they know exactly what Reno needs. They have the access to the data to what Reno needs and they, most importantly, they're accessible to the people of Reno for us to be able to provide our feedback on it.”
Noble also took her concerns to the subreddit r/Reno on Reddit. She shared how much her rent is increasing and wrote about possible solutions like rent stabilization which limits what percentage rent can rise per year. Another idea she suggested on Reddit were tax incentives for landlords to keep prices low.
“Rent stabilization says you're not going to be able to raise the rent on this property more than this percentage per year,” Noble said. “ And what that does is that allows rents to go up closer in conjunction with property taxes along with wages [...] so trying to create a balance there that allows the people who have been living here and making Reno wages to stay in Reno.”
Media Attention and Advocacy
Since opening up about her rent increase, local media have been covering Noble’s journey, which has possibly complicated her situation. She was featured on KTVN and soon after received a cease and desist letter from her landlord’s attorney. Although Noble considers this an intimidation tactic she has been talking to a lawyer about her rights. It hasn’t stopped her from talking to other media though, and becoming one of the most public figureheads in the local fight against rising rents.
“I can't really give [Reno renters] advice. I could tell you I sympathize with you and I'm sorry you're going through that and if you want to get involved: go to your city council meetings, vote, talk to your elected officials, be part of the democratic process,” she said.
Noble says time is the biggest roadblock right now as she waits for City Council to enact change. She says in the meantime she hopes others will rally behind her and let it be known how rent spikes are affecting their lives and hurting local businesses in the area.