Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in Nebraska

Find out key laws every Nebraska landlord and tenant needs to know.

By , Attorney · UC Berkeley School of Law

Nebraska laws govern much of the landlord-tenant relationship, including security deposits, late rent, and evictions. Here's a breakdown of key laws that affect nearly all Nebraska landlords and tenants.

Nebraska Rental Application and Tenant Screening Laws

Nebraska law doesn't regulate many aspects of the tenant application and screening process. Unlike landlords in many other states, Nebraska landlords are free to charge an application fee to apply for a rental.

All landlords need to follow federal and state antidiscrimination laws when screening applicants for a rental. Federal fair housing laws prohibit landlords from discriminating on the basis of:

  • race or color
  • religion
  • national origin
  • familial status or age (includes families with children under the age of 18 and pregnant women)
  • disability or handicap, and
  • sex (includes gender identity and sexual orientation).

For more information about Nebraska's fair housing laws, check out the Family Housing Advisory Service's fair housing website.

Nebraska Security Deposit Laws

Nebraska law dictates how much landlords can charge for a security deposit and when they must return the security deposit. Nebraska doesn't require landlords to pay interest on security deposits.

Nebraska Maximum Security Deposit

Nebraska landlords can't charge more than one month's rent for a security deposit. However, landlords can charge an additional pet deposit equivalent to one-fourth of a month's rent. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1416(1) (2024).)

When and How Landlords Must Return Security Deposits in Nebraska

Security deposits can be applied to the payment of rent and to cover any damages beyond normal wear and tear. The landlord must return any remaining security deposit—along with an itemization of any deductions—to the tenant within 14 days after the tenancy ends.

If the tenant doesn't provide a forwarding address for the security deposit, the landlord must send the remaining funds and itemization to the tenant's last-known mailing address. If the mailing is returned as undeliverable, the landlord must hold on to the funds for a year. After a year has passed, under Nebraska law the money is considered abandoned property, and the landlord must pay the money to the State Treasurer. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1416(2) (2024).)

When a landlord fails to meet the security deposit return deadline, the tenant can recover the money owed by suing the landlord. The landlord will be responsible for the tenant's court costs and attorneys' fees. If the tenant can show that the landlord withheld the deposit in bad faith, the tenant can recover one month's rent or two times the amount of the security deposit, whichever is less. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1416(3) (2024).)

Required Landlord Disclosures in Nebraska

In many states, landlords must disclose specific information to tenants and potential tenants. Nebraska law requires only one disclosure: The landlord must disclose to the tenant in writing before the tenancy begins the name and address of the manager of the rental and an owner or person authorized to act on behalf of the owner for the service of process and for receiving notices and demands. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1417 (2024).)

Landlords in all states, though, must follow federal lead-based paint disclosure rules.

Nebraska Late Fees and Other Rent Rules

Rent is due on whatever day the landlord and tenant agree to. Landlords can charge tenants a fee for paying rent late, but any late fee should be a reasonable estimate of the cost that the landlord incurs because the rent is late (for example, any interest or collection costs). Late fees should be disclosed in the lease or rental agreement—otherwise, a court might not enforce them.

Grace Periods

Nebraska landlords aren't required to give tenants a rent payment grace period—rent is due on the date specified in the lease or rental agreement, and a landlord can consider it late if it's not paid on that date. However, if the lease or rental agreement gives the tenant a grace period for paying rent, the landlord must honor it.

Rent Increases

Nebraska landlords can't raise the rent during the term of a long-term lease unless the lease specifically allows them to do so.

For month-to-month tenancies, landlords can raise the rent if they give the tenant at least 30 days' written notice. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1437 (2024).)

Landlords in Nebraska Must Provide Habitable Rentals

Landlords in Nebraska have a duty to keep the rental and all common areas repaired, fit for human habitation, and in good and safe working order. This includes:

  • maintaining the electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators
  • providing receptacles for removal of garbage and waste, and
  • supplying running water and reasonable amounts of hot water except as required by law.

Landlords and tenants can agree to have the tenant take care of some of these duties, as long as the agreement is in writing, the tenant gets paid or receives some other benefit for performing the duty, and the tenant's assumption of the tasks doesn't negatively affect other tenants. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1419 (2024).)

Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent in Nebraska

If the landlord fails to supply running water, hot water, heat, or other essential services, the tenant can give the landlord a written notice of the problem and can:

  • procure reasonable amounts of hot water, running water, heat, and essential services during the time that landlord isn't providing these, and deduct their actual (and reasonable) cost from the rent
  • sue the landlord for the loss of value of the rental while these problems were occurring, or
  • move out while the problems persist and be excused from paying rent until the problems are fixed.

If the landlord deliberately doesn't supply these services, the tenant can also recover the cost of substitute housing up to the amount of rent the tenant pays. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1427 (2024).)

Tenant Rights to Terminate the Tenancy

When there's an issue at the rental that materially affects health and safety, the tenant can give the landlord a written notice specifying what's wrong. The notice must state that if the issue isn't fixed within 14 days, the tenant is terminating the tenancy on a date not less than 30 days after the receipt of the notice. If the landlord fixes the issues before the date in the notice, the tenancy won't end.

If the problem is something that's happened within the past six months, however, the tenant can terminate the tenancy with 14 days' notice (and doesn't have to wait around to see if the landlord fixes the issue again). (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1425 (2024).)

Small Claims Lawsuits in Nebraska

If you find yourself in a battle over a security deposit or repairs, small claims court is a good place to bring your grievance. Small claims courts in Nebraska can hear cases in which the plaintiff—the person suing—isn't asking for more than $3,900. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-2802 (2024).) (The amount allowed in small claims court might change, so check the court website to confirm the current amount.) Small claims court procedures tend to be simpler than those of regular courts, and because attorneys aren't allowed in Nebraska small claims court, the parties represent themselves.

Nebraska Termination and Eviction Rules

Nebraska landlords must follow very specific rules and procedures in order to terminate a tenancy and then, if necessary, file an eviction lawsuit.

Notice of Termination for Cause

A landlord who wants to evict a tenant in Nebraska before the lease or rental agreement has expired must have cause—in other words, a legally valid reason to terminate the tenancy.

In Nebraska, reasons to terminate the tenancy before the lease expires include:

  • failure to pay rent
  • a breach of the tenant's duty to maintain the rental that materially affects health and safety
  • a material breach of the lease or rental agreement, or
  • violent criminal activity, unsafe activity, or illegal sale of controlled substances.

(Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1431 (2024).)

When a landlord wants a tenant to leave for one of these reasons, the landlord must first terminate the tenancy. This is done by giving the tenant written notice. The type of notice depends on the situation.

  • Termination for nonpayment of rent. If the tenant fails to pay rent when it's due, the landlord must give the tenant a seven-day notice to pay rent or quit (move out). The notice must state that the landlord intends to terminate the tenancy if the tenant doesn't pay rent or move out within the seven days. If the tenant doesn't comply, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1431(2) (2024).) (If the tenant does move out but doesn't pay the rent, the landlord can apply the security deposit to recover the unpaid rent, and sue the tenant for any remaining amounts due.)
  • Termination for a breach of the lease or rental agreement or of the tenant's duty to maintain the rental. If the tenant causes the rental to fall into a state of disrepair that affects health and safety or materially breaks a term of the lease or rental agreement (by having pets despite a no-pets policy, for example), the landlord must give a written notice to the tenant stating that the tenancy will end in 30 days if the tenant doesn't fix the issue within 14 days. If the tenant doesn't fix the situation by the deadline in the notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.

If the problem is one that the tenant has been given another notice for within the past six months, the landlord doesn't have to give the tenant another chance to fix things. Instead, the landlord can just send a notice specifying the breach and saying that the tenant has 14 days to move out. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1431(1) (2024).)

  • Termination for violent criminal activity, unsafe activity, or illegal sale of controlled substances. The landlord has the right to terminate the tenancy of any tenant who acts violently, sells drugs, or otherwise acts in a way that threatens the health and safety of others at the rental. The landlord doesn't have to give the tenant a chance to clean up their act; instead, the landlord can send a five-day notice to move out. If the tenant doesn't move out by the deadline in the notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1431(4) (2024).)

The landlord can also terminate the tenancy of a tenant who allows someone else to do these things at the rental, unless the tenant seeks a protective order against the person, reports the activity to a law enforcement agency, or, if the activity is domestic violence, the tenant produces evidence that the occurrence was an act of domestic violence. (If the activity was domestic violence, the landlord can terminate the tenancy of just the perpetrator.) (Neb Rev. Stat. § 76-1431(5) (2024).)

If a landlord who's given a tenant notice continues to accept rent from the tenant, the landlord loses the right to terminate the tenancy for the breach noted in the notice. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1433 (2024).)

Notice of Termination Without Cause

The process for ending a tenancy without cause depends on the type of tenancy. Here's what needs to happen to end a month-to-month tenancies or a tenancy with a long-term lease.

Ending a Month-to-Month Tenancy Without Cause

If the tenant has a written month-to-month rental agreement, and the landlord wants the tenant to move out but doesn't have cause to end the tenancy, the landlord must give the tenant at least 30 days' written notice that the tenancy is ending. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1437 (2024).)

If the tenant doesn't move out at the end of the month, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.

Ending a Tenancy With a Long-Term Lease Without Cause

If a landlord wants a tenant with a long-term lease (a lease with a definite end date) to move, but doesn't have legal cause to end the tenancy, the landlord has to wait until the lease ends. The landlord isn't required to give the tenant any notice that the tenancy is coming to an end unless the terms of the lease require the landlord to do so.

If the tenant doesn't move out when the lease ends, the landlord should stop accepting rent payments and file an eviction lawsuit.

What Landlords Must Do With Tenants' Abandoned Property

After an eviction (or even after a tenant simply moves out), the landlord might find that the tenant has left behind personal property at the rental unit. If the property clearly is garbage, the landlord can throw it away. Nebraska's "Disposition of Personal Property Landlord and Tenant Act" gives detailed instructions on what landlords must do with a tenant's abandoned property.

Landlords must give the tenant a written notice that describes the property in a manner that allows the owner to identify it. If there's a container that's locked or fastened, the landlord doesn't have to open it—a description of the container is enough.

The notice must include one of the following statements (whichever is appropriate for the situation):

  • "If you fail to reclaim the property, it will be sold at a public sale after notice of the sale has been given by publication. You have the right to bid on the property at this sale. After the property is sold and the costs of storage, advertising, and sale are deducted, the remaining money will be turned over to the State Treasurer pursuant to the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act. You may claim the remaining money from the office of the State Treasurer as provided in such act."
  • "Because this property is believed to be worth less than two thousand dollars, it may be kept, sold, or destroyed without further notice if you fail to reclaim it within the time indicated in this notice."

(Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2304 (2024).)

The notice must also state:

  • that reasonable costs of storage may be charged before the property is returned
  • the location where the tenant can claim the property, and
  • the date on or before which the property must be claimed (at least 7 days after personal delivery of the notice or 14 days after the notice is put in the mail).

Nebraska provides a form that landlords can use for these purposes. (See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2305 (2024).)

The landlord must deliver the notice within six months of the date of expiration of the lease or the date the abandonment was discovered, whichever is later. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2303 (2024).) Landlords must follow strict procedures when storing and selling the abandoned property. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2308 (2024).)

Tenant Defenses to Eviction

Even though a landlord might have a valid reason to evict a tenant, the tenant can still choose to fight the eviction by presenting defenses recognized by Nebraska courts. For example, the tenant could claim that the eviction is the result of the landlord illegally discriminating, or is in retaliation for the tenant exercising a legal right.

Nebraska law also allows special protections for tenants who have experienced domestic violence. (See the section "Rights of Victims of Crime to End Lease Early," below.) Some of these protections might provide a tenant with a defense against eviction.

A tenant's decision to fight the eviction could increase the costs of the eviction, and it could result in the tenant having more time to remain in the rental. For these reasons, it's often in the best interests of both the tenant and the landlord to try to negotiate a compromise rather than head to court. Mediation is a common way for landlords and tenants to work issues out—check to see if your community has a low-cost or free housing mediation program.

Illegal Evictions

Landlords can't take self-help measures to evict a tenant. For example, Nebraska landlords can't exclude the tenant from the rental by cutting off services such as electricity, gas, water, or other essential services.

When a landlord performs an illegal eviction in this manner, the tenant can sue the landlord to move back in or end the tenancy, and can recover an amount equal to three months' rent along with reasonable attorneys' fees. If the tenant chooses to end the tenancy, the landlord must return all prepaid rent and recoverable security deposit. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1430 (2024).)

Rights of Victims of Crime to End Lease Early

When a tenant or a member of the tenant's household is a victim of domestic violence, the tenant can end the lease early and leave without penalty if the tenant or household member has:

  • obtained a protective order, restraining order, or other similar relief that applies to the perpetrator of the domestic violence, or
  • obtained certification confirming domestic violence from a qualified third party.

The tenant must provide the landlord with a copy of the documentation above, as well as a written notice containing the date on which the tenant wishes to be released from the tenancy. The date must be at least 14 days and no more than 30 days after the tenant provides the documentation. The tenant is responsible for rent for the month they terminate the tenancy, but not after that. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1431.01 (2024).)

Nebraska Rules About Landlords' Access to Property

Landlords can always enter a rental with the tenant's consent or when there's a reasonable belief that there's imminent danger to lives or property.

Nebraska landlords can also enter the rental in order to:

  • inspect the rental
  • make necessary or agreed-upon repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements
  • supply necessary or agreed-upon services, or
  • show the rental to potential purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors.

The landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours' written notice of the landlord's intent to enter. The notice must include the intended purpose for entry and a reasonable time period during which the landlord will enter. The landlord must enter only at reasonable times. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1423 (2024).)

Nebraska landlords can also enter at reasonably necessary times when the tenant is gone for more than seven days. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1432 (2024).)

Where to Find Nebraska Landlord-Tenant Laws

If you want to read the text of a law itself, such as state security deposit rules, start by checking citations for Nebraska landlord-tenant statutes. To access the statutes themselves, visit the Nebraska Legislature's website—use the search function to find a specific statute. Or, if you don't know the exact statute number, you can enter a keyword that is likely to be in it, such as "nonpayment of rent."

Local Ordinances Affecting Nebraska Landlords and Tenants

Cities and counties often pass local ordinances, such as rent control rules, health and safety standards, noise and nuisance regulations, and anti-discrimination rules that affect landlords and tenants. Many municipalities have websites—just search for the name of a particular city in Nebraska and then do a search when you're on the site.

State and Local Government on the Net and Municode are good sources for finding local governments online. Also, your local public library or office of the city attorney, mayor, or city or county manager can provide information on local ordinances that affect landlords and tenants in Nebraska.

Federal Landlord-Tenant Laws and Regulations

Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have enacted laws and regulations that apply to the landlord-tenant relationship in Nebraska. These laws and regulations address topics such as discrimination and landlord responsibilities to disclose environmental health hazards, such as lead-based paint.

The U.S. Code is the starting place for most federal statutory research. It consists of 53 separate numbered titles, each covering a specific subject matter. Most federal regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"). To access the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations online, see the federal section of the Library of Congress's legal research site.

Nolo Resources on Legal Research and Landlord-Tenant Law

For more information on legal research, check out Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias (Nolo). This nontechnical book gives easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions on how to find legal information.

You'll also find a wealth of information in Nolo's landlord-tenant books.

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