The Judiciary Committee heard testimony Feb. 4 on a bill to require regular reports on eviction proceedings throughout the state.
LB402, sponsored by Bennington Sen. Wendy DeBoer, would require the Nebraska Supreme Court to create a biannual report detailing eviction proceedings by county. Among other information, the report would include the number of and reasons for evictions, and the number of tenants and landlords represented by counsel.
DeBoer said housing security and access is a major public health issue that impacts all of Nebraska.
“This information will allow us to see where evictions are concentrated, how eviction rates change over time and the cause under which evictions are being filed,” she said. “It will allow us to see those trends and tailor our policy accordingly and allow support groups to best serve the community.”
Each year, beginning in 2022, the reports would be due to the Legislature by Jan. 15 and July 15.
Speaking in support of the bill was Tessa Lengeling, a student attorney. The data collected under LB402 would best help those facing eviction and homelessness, she said, as well as landlords struggling to balance their books and courts with overloaded dockets.
“Now, more than ever, accurate data and research is important,” Lengeling said. “This information will allow policymakers, attorneys, landlords and service providers to fully grasp what is going on in courtrooms throughout Nebraska.”
Scott Mertz, representing Legal Aid of Nebraska, also supported the bill. People are evicted for a variety of reasons, he said, ranging from serious criminal activity to simple nonrenewal of rental agreements.
“Being able to distinguish the reason for eviction would enable us to know the number of evictions that are happening, but also, more importantly, why they’re happening,” Mertz said. “This will lead to a better understanding of where there is a lack of decent affordable housing and help Nebraska to address that shortage.”
No one testified in opposition to LB402 and the committee took no immediate action on it.