Nebraska Landlord Tenant Laws
Landlord Tenant Laws of Nebraska
Every state has their own set of statutes that govern the relationship between landlord and tenant, outlining property rights, occupation rights, entry rights and other particulars such as security deposits, rent amounts and due dates. In Nebraska, like in other states, these rules and regulations are set out to protect both parties and to make clear what is expected from both parties regarding their responsibilities.
There three separate statutes that protect the parties in a landlord tenant relationship; statute Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 76-1401 – 76-1449, called Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, statute Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 76-1450 to 76-14,111, called Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act and statute Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 69-2301 to 69-2314, called Disposition of Personal Property Landlord Tenant Act. We will discuss some of the most basic statutes governing rental property, but this is not intended as a replacement for legal services, simply a guide to help navigate the rental landscape. If you find yourself in a conflict that you can’t resolve, seek legal advice.
What’s in a Lease
Although many agreements have been made between tenant and landlord without a formal lease, it is unwise to rent without one. A lease protects both landlord and tenant, providing a written record of several factors such as pertinent information regarding the condition of the property at the time of possession, deposit amounts, rental period, rental rate, length of tenancy and other important information such as whether or not pets will be allowed on the property. Renting without a lease is like working without a net; it can be done, but is risky and someone can get hurt. Keep things clear in your landlord/tenant relationship with a written record in the form of a lease.
Nebraska makes no statute regarding interest, the account that the security deposit will be held in, non-refundable fees; records kept regarding the deposit with holdings, receipt of deposit, and failure to comply. Nebraska does govern other aspects of the security deposit, such as the amount allowable. Nebraska statute §§ 76-1416(1) limits the amount of security deposit to on month’s rent plus a pet deposit if they are allowed and the tenant has a pet. The same statute limits the amount of the pet deposit to one fourth of the amount of monthly rent.
Return of the security department must occur two weeks once the tenant makes a written demand for deposit return and provides and address to send it too, or when tenant provides a delivery alternative for receipt of deposit. However, a portion of the deposit (§§ 76-1416) can be used for unpaid rent or damages caused by tenant that violate the Tenant’s Duties, which are a series of responsibilities that must be maintained by the tenant. Additionally, landlords must supply tenant with an accounting and description of damages along with a list of charges for the damages. (§§ 76-1416(2)) Objection to deposit withholding will be heard in Nebraska small claims court where the maximum award is $3,000 (§§ 25-2802(4)).
Tenant and Landlord Responsibilities
In an effort to reduce landlord/tenant disputes, Nebraska statutes outline rights and responsibilities and remedies. Among these are the Landlord’s obligation to the tenant or Landlord’s Duties, which include rules governing housing code compliance, maintenance and repairs, care of common areas, trash removal, water and heat. Statute §§ 76-1419 specifically outlines the landlord’s responsibilities toward caring for the property and provision of basic services. Similarly, the Tenant’s Duties provide regulations the tenant must follow under Nebraska statute §§ 76-1421. The tenant must adhere to basic housing code compliance, including codes that require the tenant keep the unit up to code and in livable condition. Cleanliness, trash, damages, appliances, plumbing and trash are regulated under the Tenant’s Duties.
Additionally, the code includes provisions for the quiet enjoyment of the property, meaning that the tenant and the tenant’s guest must not disturb the neighbors. There are also provisions requiring tenants to obey all house rules such as home owners or condominium rules. The tenant duty statute also assures tenants of disclosure regarding the presence of lead. Should the tenant find conditions of the property require notification of health authorities, this statute protects said tenant from retaliatory evictions, rent increases or such actions.
Nebraska has in place a number of details that help both landlord and tenant create a fair lease. The only issue Nebraska statutes fail to address regarding tenancy deals with early termination and abandonment of the property. However, Nebraska does make several statutes that assist in governing tenancy such as:
- Rent due date occurs on first of the month or at the start of a monthly period. §§ 76-1414(3)
- Increase in rental rate notice as written lease allows. §§ 76-1414(1)
- Late charges will apply as agreed. §§ 76-1414(1)
- No grace period is allowed. Rent is due as agreed. §§ 76-1414(3)
- Late fees are allowed. §§ 76-1414(1)
- Rent paid in advance can be for any owing rent at the time of vacancy. §§ 76-1416(2)
- Rent withholding for failure to supply basic services, including heat and water is allowed with written notice and the costs are reasonable. §§ 76-1427
- Recovery of attorney’s fees by the landlord is not allowed to be a provision in any lease. However, a court may award this action if circumstances warrant. §§ 76-1415(1)(c)
- Landlords are required to keep damages toward tenant at minimum. For example, getting the property rented again will reduce the amount of rent owed in a broken lease, taking possession after thirty days after property is abandoned. §§ 76-1405 and §§ 76-1432(3))
Entry and Required Notices
Often a bone of contention between tenant and landlord is entry into the property after the tenant has taken possession. To keep things calm, the wise legislators of Nebraska have chosen to create certain statutes regarding entry and required notices. Nebraska statute §§ 76-1423(1) requires that landlords provide tenants with a 24 hour notice before entering and it must be during reasonable hours. This statute also covers entry for showings and for maintenance. Emergency entry is allowed under Nebraska statute §§ 76-1423(2). This same statute also allows for entry during extended absences. Entry for pest control is not covered under Nebraska law.
On a lease that has a predetermined end of tenancy, no notice to vacate is required as it is understood the lease expires and the tenant is expected to vacate. A monthly tenancy requires a 30 day notification §§ 76-1437(2), weekly leases require a 7 day notification §§ 76-1437(1). If a tenant fails to pay rent, a three day notice to vacate can be served §§ 76-1431(2). Nebraska statute §§ 76-1436, protects tenants from utility shutoffs and lockouts.
Finally, notice for termination because of lease violations in Nebraska require the landlord to provide a written notice, informing the tenant of the violation, giving the tenant 14 days to remedy the violation or vacate the property within 30 days. Should a second violation occur within the six months of the first, a 14 day notice to vacate can be served. The notice must contain the specific violation and the date the lease agreement shall end §§ 76-1431(1).
Keep in mind that the best way to avoid conflicts that end up in Nebraska small claims court is to communicate and work with your landlord or tenant. A great landlord tenant relationship can be rewarding for both landlord and tenant. If you have any issues you can’t resolve, mediation may be available in your area.