When Is It Illegal for Landlords to Retaliate in Nebraska?
It’s illegal for Nebraska landlords to retaliate withraised rent,reduced services,orthreatened evictionagainst tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions:
Complaining to the government about failure to keep the property up to basic standards.
Participating in a tenant organization.
The law allows exceptions when the landlord can prove a good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent a reasonable amount in response to a large property tax increase isn’t retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.
What Can Tenants Do in Response in Nebraska?
Nebraska tenants can respond to landlord retaliation bysuing for quiet enjoyment of the property.The tenant might also end the rental agreement. In either case, the tenant can recover attorney fees, plus monetary damages equal to three months’ rent. Retaliation is also a defense in eviction actions.
“Except as provided in this section, a landlord may not retaliate by increasing rent or decreasing services or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession after: (a) The tenant has complained to a government agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a minimum building or housing code of a violation applicable to the premises materially affecting health and safety; or (b) The tenant has organized or become a member of a tenants’ union or similar organization.”
“If the landlord acts in violation of subsection (1), the tenant is entitled to the remedies provided in section 76-1430 [recover possession or terminate rental agreement; recover 3 months’ rent liquidated damages; recover reasonable attorney fees] and has a defense in action against him for possession. Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting reasonable rent increases or changes in services notwithstanding the occurrence of acts specified in subsection (1).”
“Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), a landlord may bring an action for possession if: (a) The violation of the applicable minimum building or housing code was caused primarily by lack of reasonable care by the tenant or other person in his household or upon the premises with his consent; (b) The tenant is in default in rent; or (c) Compliance with the applicable minimum building or housing code requires alteration, remodeling, or demolition which would effectively deprive the tenant of use of the dwelling unit. The maintenance of the action does not release the landlord from liability under subsection (2) of section 76-1425 [landlord’s repair responsibilities].”
“If the landlord unlawfully removes or excludes the tenant from the premises or willfully and wrongfully diminishes services to the tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of electric, gas, water or other essential service to the tenant, the tenant may recover possession or terminate the rental agreement and, in either case, recover an amount equal to three months’ periodic rent as liquidated damages, and a reasonable attorney’s fee. If the rental agreement is terminated the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security recoverable under section 76-1416 [security deposit statute].”