Knowing your rights is always important but is especially crucial when you rent. Legal Aid of Nebraska has come up with some frequent misconceptions about tenant rights in Nebraska. This is not a comprehensive list. If you have any questions or concerns about your rights as a tenant, please review our Landlord Tenant Handbook or call us at 1-877-250-2016 Monday/Wednesday 8:30 AM-11:30 AM and Tuesday/Thursday 1:00 PM-3:00 PM).
1) Misconception: I can withhold rent to force my landlord to make repairs.
- Do not withhold rent without speaking to a lawyer. Withholding rent could result in eviction. Instead of withholding rent, tenants should follow Nebraska law on how to request repairs, and if needed, seek legal assistance.
2) Misconception: They can’t evict me if I don’t attend the hearing.
- The eviction hearing will proceed whether or not you attend. Not going to the hearing generally means the landlord will get the eviction. Attending the hearing allows you to present your perspective, negotiate, and contribute to a resolution of the situation.
3) Misconception: Paying rent in cash and without requesting a receipt is fine.
- Paying in cash without obtaining a receipt can make it difficult to prove you paid rent if a dispute arises. Receipts are essential for documenting payments and protecting yourself from eviction. A landlord who requires you to pay in cash but will not give you a receipt may be a red flag.
4) Misconception: If I am evicted, I have a week before the Sherrif comes to lock me out.
- In Nebraska, the Sherriff or Constable can come the same day as the eviction hearing. Therefore, before the hearing, pack a bag with necessary clothing, important documents, medications, and valuables. Keep the bag in your car or by the door.
5) Misconception: It is okay to move in right away, even if the place needs repairs that the landlord promised to get fixed.
- Moving into a property that needs repairs can become a problem, because there is no guarantee the landlord will make the repairs.
6) Misconception: A verbal agreement with my landlord will protect me the same as an agreement in writing.
- Receiving your lease and other agreements in writing is the best way to receive legal protection. Written agreements provide both legal protection and clarity for tenants and landlords.
7) Misconception: It is okay to let a roommate move in without adding them to the lease.
- Before getting a roommate, get written permission from your landlord. Otherwise, they may be an “unauthorized occupant”. Most leases do not allow unauthorized occupants. Violating the terms of your lease can result in an eviction. Always follow proper procedures for adding and removing roommates from a lease.
8) Misconception: I don’t have to notify my landlord about moving out or lease termination.
- Not giving proper notice to your landlord about moving out or ending the lease may lead to misunderstandings and legal actions by your landlord. Proper notice ensures a smoother move out of the property and may make it easier to get your security deposit back.
9) Misconception: It’s okay if I forget to take photos/videos before I move in and after I move out (prior to returning keys).
- Pictures or videos showing the property’s condition when you moved in and when you moved out are crucial in resolving disputes over your security deposit. Without evidence, it is difficult to prove the property’s condition at the start and end of the lease. Tenants should always take pictures before they move in and after they move out.
10) Misconception: You shouldn’t keep your landlord up to date if you are going to be behind on your rent.
- Find a middle ground between protecting your privacy and maintaining clear, proactive communication with your landlord is key. Do not overshare. But sometimes communicating ahead of time can foster trust and problem solving between both parties.