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Nebraska Eviction Process During COVID-19

Nebraska Executive Order

On May 31, 2020 Governor Ricketts signed an Executive Order to protect tenants from eviction during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Order was mainly an effort to accommodate people with a substantial loss of income related to COVID-19, such as a job loss, reduction in hours of work, or closing of their place of employment. The Order also worked to help those who had missed work to care for a relative or child because their school or childcare facility closed, or the childcare has limited attendance, due to COVID-19. However, the Executive Order has now expired and tenants must begin to evaluate their standing as to future rent, past rent due and potential eviction proceedings.

Evictions in Nebraska Today

Although many tenants still face ongoing issues, evictions have recommenced. Governor Ricketts’ Executive Order applied to evictions related to non-payment of rent due on or after March 13, 2020, which means that if rent was due prior to March 13, 2020 and was not paid, the landlord can still bring an action to evict their tenant. Importantly, landlords can also still pursue evictions for other reasons such as failure to cure a breach in the rental agreement.

The Order delayed eviction trials for unpaid rent until after May 31, 2020. The Order also waived the requirement that Courts must hear eviction trials for non-payment of rent within ten to fourteen days after the issuance of a summons. The Order has no effect on eviction proceedings or leases between commercial landlords and tenants. However, multi-family property owners, landlords, homeowners’ associations, condominium regimes, and property managers are all greatly affected by it.

In late May Governor Ricketts confirmed that he would not be extending the Executive Order, leaving some renters scrambling. Now, a landlord can require a tenant to pay prior back rent (March, April, and May) or they may be subject to eviction within seven days. Some landlords are also requesting late fees for the unpaid months. Landlords have the option to request small amounts of money over a period of months until the unpaid months are paid off.

There is a new federal law that stops evictions for some, but not all tenants. The Federal CARES Act protects tenants from eviction for non-payment of rent but only for those living in a property that receives a federal subsidy or federal financing. While a landlord cannot file a new eviction claim against a tenant for non-payment, he or she may still pursue an eviction action against a tenant for others reason, such as breach of the lease. The CARES Act also does not stop or affect pre-existing eviction actions.

Most eviction actions in Nebraska are currently being enforced. For those living in federally-funded housing, tenants may be able to seek remedy through the CARES Act. Tenants who are not in such housing may face eviction or large payments to their landlords.  Ricketts’ Executive Order expired almost a month ago, and Nebraska’s tenants and landlords are feeling the effects.  If you are dealing with rent issues, please contact the attorneys at Berkshire & Burmeister for specific questions and recommendations regarding your tenant issues and concerns.

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