Recent Changes to the Nebraska Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Submitted by: Nicole Seckman Jilek

Effective July 21, 2016, changes to the Nebraska Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (the "Act") make it easier for residential landlords to deal with tenant issues by permitting landlords to remove tenants who engage in criminal activity at the leased premises and to resolve personal property issues for deceased tenants in a more simple and expedited manner.

The first change to the Act allows a residential landlord to evict a tenant for engaging in criminal activity at the leased premises by delivering a five-day notice of termination of the lease. Prior to this change, landlords had to wait thirty days from delivery of a notice of termination before evicting the problem tenant.

Under the revised Act, a landlord may evict a tenant upon five days' notice if the tenant, a member of the tenant's household, or a guest of the tenant engages in any violent criminal activity on the premises, the illegal sale of any controlled substance on the premises, or any other activity that threatens the health or safety of other tenants, the landlord, or the landlord's employees or agents. Activities that may form the basis for such an eviction include (i) physical assault or the threat of physical assault, (ii) illegal use of a firearm or other weapon or the threat of illegal use of a firearm or other weapon, (iii) possession of a controlled substance if the tenant knew or should have known of the possession, or (iv) any other activity or threatened activity involving personal safety or damage to the property.

Not only does the change in the Act afford the landlord a means to evict the tenant more quickly, but it also provides that the tenant has no right to cure the default and limits the tenant's defenses in an eviction. The tenant's only defense to this type of eviction is that a person other than the tenant conducted the criminal activity and the tenant sought a protective order or restraining order against such person or reported such activity to law enforcement.

The second change to the Act allows a residential landlord to permit a person whose name and contact information is provided to the landlord by the tenant to enter the leased premises to remove the tenant's personal property if the tenant dies. Prior to this change, landlords had to comply with the cumbersome and more time-consuming Disposition of Personal Property Landlord and Tenant Act to legally remove or dispose of a deceased tenant's property. Residential landlords should consider requesting that their tenants name a person in the lease who is expressly authorized to remove the tenant's property if the tenant dies in order to take advantage of this recent change to the Act.

If you have any questions regarding the recent changes to the Act or any other residential leasing or eviction matters, be sure to visit with a competent real estate attorney experienced in landlord-tenant matters.