COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in
This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.
This page was last updated on July 7, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
Its information is taken from these sources:Gov. eviction orderLegal Aid of NebraskaPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect Tracker
- Are there any special protections for renters during the emergency? How long do they last?
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts had issued an Eviction Moratorium that is now expired, as of May 31, 2020. The moratorium, when it was in force, stopped courts from hearing eviction cases against renters who cannot pay their rent based on COVID-19 related hardships, until after May 31. It applied to rent that was due between March 13, 2020 and May 31, 2020. Evictions have since resumed.
Nebraska renters may also be eligible for national protections that last through July 2020, check below to see if you are.
- What do the protections mean for renters?
The protections means that through May 31, 2020 in Nebraska:
- Your landlord could still give you a notice to quit.
- Your landlord could still file an eviction claim in court against you.
- Hearings on eviction were still happening, but the court would not hear an eviction case against a renter who could prove that they didn't pay rent because of a COVID-19 hardship.
- The court could still issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you, unless you could prove that you didn't pay rent because of a COVID-19 hardship.
- Law enforcement could enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.
- Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency?
Yes, Nebraska renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
If you are unable to pay, Governor Ricketts' eviction order may have protected you from an eviction lawsuit, through May 31, 2020. But after the emergency ended, renters have to pay back rent or face possible eviction.
Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
- Can my landlord evict me during the emergency?
Nebraska renters could be evicted during the emergency period through May 31, if the reason for eviction is nonpayment of rent because of COVID-19 hardships. Renters in other situations could still be evicted.
After May 31, all evictions may resume unless the renter is eligible for national protections.
Under Governor Ricketts' now-expired eviction moratorium order, the courts would not move forward with eviction cases against renters who have not paid full rent because of COVID-19 hardship, for rent that was due between March 13, 2020 and May 31, 2020. Landlords can still sue renters for eviction, but the court would not proceed with hearings until after May 31.
After May 31, courts began to proceed with eviction lawsuits against all renters once again.
Nebraska renters may also be eligible for national protections against eviction that last through July 2020. Check here to see if you qualify for these extra protections.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency?
Some Nebraska renters may be protected against utility shutoffs during the emergency. It depends on where you live.
Some Nebraska utility companies are stopping all shutoffs during the emergency. Check with the Nebraska Public Service Commission or your utility providers to see if they have stopped shutoffs for nonpayment.
Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
- Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
- Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
- After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.