Renters Rights in Nebraska
You might not be the owner of the property, but as a renter, you still have rights. Your landlord must respect your rights by law in Nebraska. Understanding the basics of state laws concerning renters’ rights could help you stand up for yourself when someone wrongs you. If you do discover a landlord has infringed upon your rights as a tenant, you may need a lawyer’s help. An attorney can review your rental agreement, determine fault and help you seek a fair resolution to the problem.
Security Deposit Maximum
Many renters do not know that in Nebraska, state law limits how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. It is against the law for a property owner to demand a security deposit that exceeds the value of one month’s rent. The only exception is if there is a pet fee. A landlord may charge an additional pet deposit, when appropriate, as long as it does not exceed one-fourth of one month’s rent. After the tenant terminates residency at the property, the landlord may use the security deposit to repair damages. The landlord must send the tenant an itemized list of damages repaired and any remaining security deposit money within 14 days of the tenant terminating residency.
The Right to Go to Court
If a landlord illegally withholds a security deposit refund, state law gives the tenant the right to file a lawsuit against the landlord for its return. The maximum amount a tenant can seek in reparation is $3,500 (until 2020) through the small claims court. Take a copy of the letter you sent your landlord demanding the return of your deposit, as well as a return receipt proving the landlord received this letter to the small claims court. If you need assistance filing your claim, discuss the matter with an attorney.
Renters have the right to receive all relevant and required information from a landlord before moving in, usually in the form of a rental agreement or lease. Under federal law, a landlord must supply tenants with lead-based paint warnings, for example. Under state law, the landlord may also have to disclose information about security deposits, nonrefundable fees, rent control rules, shared utility arrangements, smoke alarms, smoking policies, failed building inspections, domestic violence victim rights and the identities of all parties that may act on behalf of the landlord.
Right to Withhold Rent
It is legal for tenants to withhold rent if a landlord fails to provide basic necessities, such as water or heat. Nebraska Revised Statute 76-1427 states that as long as a tenant gives the landlord written notice of the breach, the tenant may withhold rent until the landlord remedies the issue. The tenant could also recover damages based on the decrease in the fair rental value of the unit due to the lack of essentials. A tenant has the right to procure the essentials and deduct the cost of these services from his or her next rent check. The tenant can also live somewhere else during the landlord’s noncompliance without having to pay rent in the abandoned unit.
The Right to Freedom From Discrimination
It is against state and federal law for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant based on a protected class, such as race, religion, age, ethnicity or disability. A landlord cannot raise the rent for a tenant based on one of these classifications. If a tenant has exercised his or her right to file a complaint or take the landlord to court, the landlord cannot use this as a reason to retaliate against the tenant in the form of increased rent or eviction. If you have faced discrimination from a landlord in Nebraska, you may be able to bring a civil claim against him or her for reparation with the help of an Omaha landlord negligence attorney.