What’s the deal with security deposit laws in Nebraska?
In the age of Craigslist, it’s hard to do a Google search for “security deposits” without seeing some sort of scam come up in the results. And it’s not just in big cities – here in Nebraska, a man posing as a landlord scammed several prospective tenants out of security deposits for a property that didn’t even belong to him.
At least two women were scammed out of $900 by the 21-year-old scam artist, when they paid him a deposit for a Council Bluffs house that he also falsely rented to another couple moving from Colorado. The good news is, he’s been charged with felony theft and is awaiting a trial from a jail cell.
Needless to say, some prospective tenants could be nervous about paying a security deposit up front. There’s no need to be, of course, as proper landlords adhere to the security deposit laws for accepting and returning money to would-be and current tenants.
Read on to find answers to more frequently asked questions about security deposits in Nebraska.
Do I need to charge tenants a security deposit in Nebraska?
You don’t need to, but it is recommended, and many landlords in Nebraska adhere by this standard. If a tenant is to break the lease or damage the apartment beyond normal wear and tear, the security deposit is designed to cover the reparation costs.
What are the limits on rental deposits in Nebraska?
- One month’s rent
- One month plus one-quarter of a month’s rent as a pet deposit
For example, in a 2-bedroom apartment in Omaha renting for $800 a month would have a maximum security deposit of $800. If tenants are bringing a pet, a deposit of $1,000 is the most they can be charged.
Do landlords need to provide a receipt for a security deposit?
No. But, it is a good idea to provide a receipt or stipulate within the lease how much the security deposit was and when it was paid in full. When the tenant moves out, this will help mitigate disputes over how much money they may be owed. You can even add a security deposit addendum to the lease and have the tenant sign and date it for further protection.
Does the money need to be kept in a separate account to allow it to accrue interest?
In the state of Nebraska, security deposits do not need to be kept in a separate bank account.
What can security deposit money be used for?
After the tenant vacates the property, money from the security deposit can be used to cover
- Unpaid rent
- Unpaid utilities
- Damages caused by the tenant beyond normal wear and tear
What is the deadline to return a security deposit in Nebraska?
Tenants must request the return of the full amount of the security deposit in writing. The security deposit (minus any costs incurred for cleaning or repairs, if applicable) must be returned to the renter no later than 14 days after their request.
Do landlords need to notify renters of security deposit money used to fix damages?
Yes. If any of the security deposit money is used to repair damages or cover past due rent and utilities, an itemized list and the remaining deposit are owed to the renter within 14 days of their request. Failure to provide this may result in a judge awarding the tenant all of their money plus any legal fees.
Where can I learn more about Nebraska Security Deposit laws?
If you have any questions, or think you may want to learn more about security deposit laws in Nebraska, please consult a lawyer.
- Nebraska Revised Statute 76-1416: Security deposits; prepaid rent
- Legal Aid of Nebraska Landlord Tenant Handbook (PDF)
- NOLO: Nebraska Security Deposits Limits and Guidelines
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