Renters could be required to pay more to own pets under a bill discussed by the Judiciary Committee Feb. 15.
Currently, landlords who require a pet security deposit can charge up to 25 percent of one month’s rent. LB1039, introduced by Elkhorn Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, would increase this amount to 100 percent.
Linehan said as a pet owner she has firsthand experience with the damage a puppy or untrained dog can inflict on an apartment or house.
“It seems to me that if a landlord is willing to rent to someone with a pet, it’s reasonable to charge a deposit that is enough to cover the damage that may be caused by that pet,” she said.
Supporting the measure was Gene Eckel, representing the Nebraska Association of Commercial Property Owners. He said the increased pet deposit would cover most, if not all, costs a landlord would encounter when a cat or dog does damage.
“A lot of times the amount of damage caused by a pet is going to be more than that 25 percent pet deposit submitted by the tenant,” he said.
Rebecca Dostal, a law student living in Lincoln, opposed the bill. Under current state law, a landlord does not have to return a security deposit to a tenant at the end of a rental agreement unless a tenant demands it, unbeknownst to most renters.
LB1039 simply would add to this financial burden for many people, she said.
“We’re allowing landlords to hold and potentially keep an amount equal to a month’s rent until a tenant demands that it be returned,” Dostal said.
The committee took no immediate action on the bill.