Nebraska eviction laws vary from county to county, but they still follow the same general eviction process:
Every eviction process is different and dependent on the lease/rental agreement signed by the tenant and the landlord.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Confirm procedures with your justice court to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.
It may be necessary to seek legal advice from an attorney. The information provided may change depending on your county.
1. Failure to comply with rent deadlines
Rent is usually considered late a day past it is due. A grace period may be available if stated in the given lease/rental agreement.
Before a landlord can start the eviction process, the landlord must give the tenant an official written eviction notice called a 7-Day Notice to Pay.
Providing a notice is crucial to the eviction process.
If they pay rent due within those 7-day time limit, then the filing for eviction action does not continue. If they are unable to pay the rent that is due, the landlord reserves the right to continue filing for eviction.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
The lease has to be upheld by both tenant and landlord for the entire duration of their stay. Agreements may vary from tenant to tenant.
If a tenant violates any terms from the lease agreement, the landlord must give the tenant a written notice called a 30-Day Notice to Comply. The tenant has 14 days to fix this issue, or else the eviction process does not continue.
Lease violations may include:
- Damage to the rental unit
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Keeping pets in pet-free properties, etc.
- A day or more of not throwing out the trash for long periods of time, inviting bugs and/or rodents.
- Damaging the electrical wiring of a unit
- Ruining the plumbing fixtures of a unit
If the violations are not resolved, or they remain on the property within the given 14 days, then the tenant has until the end of 1 month to move out of the property.
The 14 days grace period cannot be extended.
3. Conducting illegal activity
Landlords have the right to evict a tenant for illegal activity.
If a tenant has engaged in illegal behavior within the property, the landlord must issue an official written eviction notice called a 5-Day Notice to Quit.
Examples of illegal activities are:
- Theft, violence, assault
- Possessing and/or firing of an illegal firearm
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
The above also applies if a guest or co-resident living with the tenant commits illegal acts. However, it does not apply if the tenant filed a restraining order against said guest or co-resident.
4. Non-renewal of the lease after the rental period ends
In Nebraska, landlords must not evict a tenant or force them to vacate the property without probable cause. As long as the tenant does not commit any violations, they can stay until their rental period ends.
But if they stay in the property even a day after their rental period ends and have not arranged for renewal, landlords must issue a written notice to move.
If they stay in the property even a day past their rental or lease agreement, the landlord may continue with the eviction process.
Filing a Complaint
1. How to File a Complaint
The process for eviction action can only begin after the issuance of the appropriate written notice. Enough notice time must have been allowed before filing for eviction.
The process for evictions is as follows:
- Proceed to the justice court the rental unit belongs to
- File a complaint
- Pay the fees
Make sure you are in the right justice court. The landlord must file an official complaint before proceeding to the next step.
It takes about 7 days to 30 days from the issuance of the Notice to Vacate/Quit.
Serving the Tenant
1. How to Serve a Tenant
This step involves serving a tenant with the documents.
An official from the court needs to deliver the summons for the hearing and the complaint to the tenant. The county sheriff's office is usually assigned this task or someone who is uninvolved in the case.
The documents have to be served within the three-day allowance. This countdown starts from its issuance from the court. Three days shouldn’t be extended.
There are several methods available:
- Personal Service: The county sheriff delivers the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
- Substituted Service: If the tenant is unavailable, someone living with the tenant who is an appropriate age may receive the documents
- Mailing: A copy of the Summons and Complaint is mailed via certified mail. A designated delivery service may perform the delivery for the landlord
- Posting and Mailing: The representative leaves a copy of the documents for the tenant. It is placed in a secure and visible position by the entrance of the tenant’s property. When using this method, the server also mails the documents via first-class mail
The landlord can serve the documents via delivery or certified mail.
2. After Serving the Summons and Complaint
The tenant has at least 7-11 days before the eviction hearing to prepare.
The court order must be served to the tenant within 3 days of its issuance from the court.
Asking for Possession
1. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and replied
In the state of Nebraska, a reply from the tenant is not needed for a court date to be scheduled. They only have to show up to the hearing on time.
The landlord must support the claim with evidence or information and show it during the hearing.
This could include, but is not limited to the following:
- Copy of the deed and lease
- Rent receipts and ledgers
- Bank statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations, correspondence, etc.
2. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
This step involves winning the case.
The landlord must provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against the tenant. If the tenant fails to show up to the hearing, the landlord wins by default.
Eviction hearings are scheduled 10 to 14 days after the Summons and Complaint was issued.
1. After the landlord wins the case
Provided that the tenant fails to appeal for reconsideration, a Writ of Restitution is issued a few hours to a few days.
The landlord must request for the issuance of the Writ of Restitution.
The Writ of Restitution gives the tenant a maximum of 10 days to evict themselves from the premises. Otherwise, they will be forcefully evicted by the county sheriff or the proper authorities.
2. Move out process
Once the Writ of Restitution is issued, the tenant has to move out from the premises within the given 10 days. They must move out before then.
Only the sheriff or the appropriate authorities are allowed to remove the tenant by force. Even if the landlord wins the case, they are not allowed to engage in illegal methods of eviction.
The state of Nebraska does not specify what to do with a tenant’s belongings. If any belongings are left behind, landlords are advised to contact the tenant and give them a reasonable timeframe to claim them.
After the date from the timeframe has passed, the property of the tenant may be sold or disposed of.
The tenants have 10 days upon the issuance of the Writ to vacate the property. Time is of the essence.
Nebraska Eviction Timeline
Below is the average timeline for a complete eviction process. This timeline does not include special cases such as requests for an appeal or continuance.
On average, it may take anywhere between 4 to 8 weeks for a complete eviction process.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part can make or break your entire eviction process in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that you can easily search.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. You should also present any extra charges that you faced in order to include them in the case.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it’s still good to show that they were aware of the situation and were given time to cure and make payment. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them committing the crime or lease violation, it’s safe to say you will normally win this dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, a simple video caught with your phone could be sufficient.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. To be safe, you should point out these terms in any future agreements with other tenants.
Can I force a tenant to move out in Nebraska?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the legal eviction processes. Provide a notice first before proceeding with an eviction action.
In the state of Nebraska, a tenant may sue their landlord for the following amounts:
- Three months’ worth of rent
- Attorney’s fees
As another consequence of forceful eviction, the statute allows tenants to stay on the property and provides for legal fees. Legal court proceedings must be observed.
Which eviction methods are considered illegal in Nebraska?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the electric, water, and/or heat supply of the tenants
- Changing the locks to prevent the tenant from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenant’s property
What are the potential penalties for a self-help eviction in Nebraska?
According to Nebraska Civil Code, you may be liable for the Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting any further violation during the court action.
What other laws should I be aware of in Nebraska?
Landlords must be aware of the changes made to the Eviction Policies in the state of Nebraska. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. More information will be highlighted in that article.
It is also wise for landlords to check out laws on Security Deposits. These deposits may protect the landlord in case the tenants violate any terms in the lease or the tenant fails to pay rent.
Security deposits are dated under the landlord-tenant act of Nebraska.
- NOLO: Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in Nebraska
- eForms: Nebraska Eviction Notice Forms
- NOLO: Consequences of Illegal Evictions
- NOLO: The Eviction Process in Nebraska: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers
- Omaha World-Herald: Coronavirus halts most court activity, but evictions still pack Nebraska courtrooms