Tenant protection omnibus bill passed

Senators passed a bill April 29 that makes several changes to existing landlord and tenant law.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist09' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. John Cavanaugh'>Sen. John Cavanaugh</a>
Sen. John Cavanaugh

LB320, sponsored by Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh, allows a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence to seek early release from a rental agreement under certain conditions.

To be released from a rental agreement, the tenant is required to provide their landlord with a copy of an active protective or restraining order or certification confirming domestic abuse by a qualified nonprofit organization that provides services to victims of domestic violence.

Additionally, the tenant must provide written notice, including the date of release — to be no sooner than 14 days and no later than 30 days — and the names of any household members also to be released.

The tenant is required to pay rent for the month in which the agreement was terminated, but is not liable for any rent, damages or fees incurred after the release date. The protections provided under LB320 are not available to a perpetrator of domestic violence.

The bill also includes provisions of several additional measures, including:
• LB45, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, which repeals a provision prohibiting judges from granting continuances in eviction proceedings unless extraordinary cause is shown and accrued back rent is paid;
• LB46, also sponsored by Hansen, which requires that summons in an eviction proceeding be conducted through methods commonly used in civil proceedings, unless otherwise authorized;
• LB246, sponsored by Bennington Sen. Wendy DeBoer, which requires that a civil action for possession against renters of mobile home lots follow the same procedures as those brought against renters of mobile homes, apartments, houses and other residences;
• LB268, sponsored by Omaha Sen. John McCollister, which requires landlords to provide written notice to each individual unit 24 hours before seeking entry;
• LB277, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, which updates the Mobile Home Landlord and Tenant act to reflect changes made in 2019 to the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act; and
• LB402, sponsored by DeBoer, which requires the Nebraska Supreme Court to submit a biannual report to the Legislature with information pertaining to eviction procedures.

Tenants facing eviction can receive a first continuance by showing good cause and will be required to show extraordinary cause for any subsequent continuances. Additionally, if an approved continuance extends into a new rental period, the tenant is required to deposit rental payments that accrue while the eviction proceeding is pending.

LB320 passed on a 43-3 vote.

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