Bill to dispose of tenant property amended, advanced

Lawmakers advanced a bill from select file Feb. 19 that would clarify the authority of landlords to dispose of tenants’ property.

LB221, as introduced by Omaha Sen. Burke Harr, would allow a tenant to voluntarily designate a person to retrieve property upon the tenant’s death. Harr said the bill would allow families to gain access to the property without having to go through probate court.

A landlord would have 10 days following the death of a tenant to make a reasonable attempt to contact the designated person. The designee would have 20 days to respond to the landlord, then 20 days to retrieve the property.

If a tenant’s personal property were not removed within the appropriate time period, the landlord could dispose of the property and would not be held liable for any lost, damaged or stolen property. Likewise, if the tenant’s authorized person did not respond within 20 days, the landlord could dispose of the property.

Harr introduced an amendment, adopted 30-0, which incorporated provisions of LB385, originally introduced by Omaha Sen. Brett Lindstrom.

These provisions 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.

It 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 actual or threatened physical assault, illegal use of a firearm or 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.

An amendment to the Harr amendment then expanded the waiting period from three to five days. Harr said the amendment represented a compromise over concerns about tenants’ property rights. The amendment was adopted on a 30-0 vote.

LB221 advanced to final reading on a voice vote.

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