Senators consider bill to expedite evictions

Landlords could evict certain tenants sooner under a bill heard by the Judiciary Committee Feb. 6.

LB385, introduced by Omaha Sen. Brett Lindstrom, would permit a landlord or his or her representative to begin eviction litigation three days after notification of the termination of a rental agreement. Currently, the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires landlords to wait 30 days to evict a tenant after notification.

The bill would apply only in cases where tenants, roommates or their guests threaten the health, safety or peaceful enjoyment of the landlord or other tenants.

Activities that could prompt a landlord to begin the eviction process include:
• physical assault or the threat thereof;
• illegal use of a firearm or the threat thereof; and
• possession of a controlled substance.

Tenants who report threatening behavior to law enforcement or have sought a protection or restraining order would not be subject to eviction.

Lindstrom said the bill gives landlords a faster way to protect tenants from illegal activity or menacing behavior that can occur in their buildings.

“The goal here is to maintain a safe environment for tenants and all others in the building,” he said.

Gene Eckel of the Apartment Association of Greater Omaha & Lincoln testified in support of the bill. He said the proposal mirrors laws already enforced through the Nebraska Public Housing Agency Act. Tenants who are in harms way want action as soon as possible, he said, and LB385 would give landlords another tool to make them safe.

“A landlord has the duty to protect his tenants,” Eckel said.

John Chatelain, president of the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association, also spoke in favor of the bill, saying the current eviction process can sometimes take six weeks. The bill would decrease the amount of time tenants are exposed to dangerous behavior, he said.

“[The bill] gets after that tenant who is threatening or menacing to other people in the building,” Chatelain said.

No one spoke in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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