On March 25, 2020, Governor Ricketts signed Executive Order No. 20-07, which affects the relationship between residential landlords and tenants in Nebraska. All restitution of premises trials for nonpayment of rent which accrued on or after March 13, 2020 are suspended until May 31, 2020. However, the tenant must demonstrate to the landlord, with evidence, that the tenant:
(a) suffered a substantial loss of income resulting from COVID-19 or the related state of emergency, such as job loss, reduction in compensated hours of work, closure of a place of employment; or
(b) missed work to care for a relative or a child due to notice from a school or a childcare facility that the child may not attend due to closure or attendance limitations related to COVID-19.
A landlord may still terminate a rental agreement if the tenant is found to have engaged in criminal conduct on the property, vandalized the property, or if there is any other material noncompliance with the terms of the lease agreement that is unrelated to nonpayment of rent. A landlord may not evict a tenant for the sole reason that they are suspected of having COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19.
What Executive Order No. 20-07 Does Not Do
- Executive Order No. 20-07 does not terminate the tenant’s obligation to pay rent. Despite the stay on restitution of premises hearings, the tenant should still make every effort possible to pay rent, or to work out a payment plan with the landlord. Unless another executive order is signed by the governor, after May 31st the landlord could bring a restitution of premises action for nonpayment of rent.
- Executive Order No. 20-07 has a minimal effect on landlords and tenants under the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act and the Mobile Landlord Tenant Act. The only effect this Executive Order has on these two acts is that the restitution of premises trials do not have to be held within 10–14 days after issuance of the summons as provided by statute.
Landlords and tenants should work together in this difficult time to establish payment plans for rent. It is not advisable that a tenant should completely neglect their duty to pay rent during this period of time if they have the ability to pay.
Please feel free to reach out to the attorneys at Jacobsen Orr if you have any questions relating to Executive Order No. 20-07.