Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Evict Someone in Nebraska: A do-it-yourself resource for landlords

How to Evict Someone in Nebraska Without a Lawyer

After spending a frustrating morning Googling how to evict someone in Nebraska, three phone calls to attorneys, and more Googling, I finally figured out how to evict someone in Nebraska and all the documents you need in order to do it.  You are not required to hire an attorney to do this, but as I've found with most legal issues in Nebraska it's difficult to get anyone to explain to you how to do them.  I found it incredibly annoying that there wasn't better information available on how to do this, so I spent an hour writing up the steps I went through and including examples of all the forms used so that it might be of help to the next person.

Below I have detailed the steps I personally went through to successfully get an eviction case filed in Douglas County, Nebraska.  I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.  I called around to several local attorneys for prices and they ranged from $500 - $1,000.  I had one lawyer break down the charges for me and she explained that most of her time is tied up in the actual eviction hearing since they do these cases all at once (often 50 at a time) and you have to wait for your name to be called.  The attorney also informed me that I'd need to attend the court case, so you're not saving any time there by hiring an attorney.  By continuing to read this you are agreeing to these terms and conditions at the following link.

I recommend starting these steps as soon as possible since from start to finish the process is around 20 days, and the longer you wait to get started, the longer it will take to complete.  I know two of the most pressing questions I had when I got started with this process were:

How long does it take to evict someone in Nebraska?  

Best case scenario it takes about 18 days.  Here's how it breaks down:  3 days written notice, 10-14 days to get a court case date, and then possible a few additional days to arrange with the sheriff to have your tenants belongings physically removed.

How much does it cost to evict someone in Nebraska?

If you do it yourself  it costs $45 to file the paperwork and $25 to hire a constable to deliver the summons.  If you have a lawyer do this for you, expect to pay $400 - $1,000.  

Step 1:

3 Day Notice Example

Post a 3 Day Notice on the tenants door and put a copy in their mailbox.  Here's a template with things you'll want to customize in yellow.  Simple copy and paste into a Word Doc.

__________________________________________________

NOTICE

To:       Jane Doe
            Put her address here

           


            Pursuant to Section 76-1401 et seq. R.R.S. 1943 (Reissue 1976) you are hereby notified that the rent on the premises you presently occupy at the above-referenced address is unpaid, although due and owing, $________ for the unpaid balance for October, 2012, plus $50 late fee since the October 5th, that if you fail to pay said rent and late fee within 3 days (three days) of receipt of this notice, the landlord shall terminate, the owner is entitled to possession of the property you presently occupy, and the owner may have a claim for rent and a separate claim for actual damages for breach of the rental agreement, together with reasonable attorneys’ fees and court cost. 

            This letter also serves notice that your name may enter the property within the next six days for a property inspection.  Please call your name at (XXX) XXX-XXXX if you would like to be notified prior to the inspection.

            I served this Notice on this 11th day of October 2012, by delivering or mailing a true copy of the same to the above described premises in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska.


                                                                        By,



                                                                        Your Name
                                                                        Your address
                                                                        Your phone number
                                                                        
__________________________________
Step 2:
If the 3 day notice has passed without response, you may want to enter the property to evaluate it for damages.  Take photos.  I recommend doing this during the day and to avoid causing any confrontation if someone is at the house.  Be nice and ask to see the property.  Do not accept a partial payment of rent.  I'm not exactly sure why, but I had two different attorneys tell me that accepting partial payments slows down the process.

Step 3:

Nebraska Eviction Petition Example 

Create a petition to file with the court.  Here is an example of the petition that I used.  The Douglas County office does not have any forms for you to use to do this.  If you are seeking damages for any late rent or damage to the property it can be included here as well.  From what I could tell, there was no difference in the filing process if you were or were not seeking damages for past rent or property, so I personally included them. 

__________________________________________________

Petition for Eviction Based on Non-Payment of Rent and Money Damages

Case No. __________________________________                         In the Justice Court of
                                                                                                            Douglas County, Nebraska
                                                                                                            Precinct _____, Place _____
Your Name
Plaintiff

vs.

Your Tenants Name
Defendant

1.      COMPLAINT.  Plaintiff files the complaint against the above-named Defendant to evict Defendant from Plaintiff’s premises, which is located in the above precinct and which is described:  address of property.

2.      SUIT FOR MONEY.  RENT and PROPERTY DAMAGE.  Plaintiff does seek a judgment for rent.  Rent is due on the 5th day of the month.  The rent is $650 per month.  The Defendant’s rent is not subsidized by the government.  Plaintiff seeks judgment for property damage to the interior door of the premises per the CONDITION OF PREMISES section of the lease agreement.  Seeking damages for the door and installation at a quoted price of $XXX. 

3.      SERVICE OF CITATION.  Plaintiff requests service of citation on Defendant by personal service at the above described premises.  Other addresses of Defendant listed in the written lease agreement are as follows:  None. 

4.      GROUND FOR EVICTION.  Defendant has violated the rental agreement between Plaintiff and Defendant dated __________________ and has refused to vacate after Notice to Quit from Plaintiff placed in mailbox and posted on door of premises on Thursday, October 12, 2012.  The rental agreement violation involved Defendant’s failure to pay the rent for the period beginning the 5th day of October 2012, and running through the present, which is still due and unpaid. 

5.      JUDGEMENT REQUESTED.  Plaintiff requests judgment for Plaintiff and against Defendant for possession of premises and for issuance of a Writ of Possession, and all court costs.  Additionally, Plaintiff requests judgment for the Plaintiff and against Defendant for the following:

a.       Rent.  If the eviction is based on the breach of an agreement to pay rent, Plaintiff requests judgment for unpaid rent in the amount of $650, as calculated at time of filing, and Plaintiff also seeks judgment for rent accruing from the date of filing and becoming due thereafter. 
b.      Attorney’s Fees.  If Plaintiff decides to engage an attorney, Plaintiff requests judgment for attorney’s fees because a written agreement binding on Defendant contains a provision entitling Plaintiff to attorney’s fees. 
c.       Post-judgment interest.  If Plaintiff is granted a judgment, Plaintiff requests post-judgment interest as allowed by statute or the rental agreement. 
The Court may send any notice to Plaintiff via U.S. mail, telephone, or email, as follows:
Your Address
Your Phone Number
Your Email




PLAINTIFF:     Your Name


By _______________________________________
Signature

__________________________________________
Printed Name of Person Signing




Subscribe and Sworn to before me on this the ____________ day of ________________________2012.

_________________________________________________


Step 4:

How to Summon your Tenant to Court

Fill out the form: Summons for Restitution of Premises Under Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of Forcible Entry and Detainer.  You can find a copy at the following link.  If this link doesn't work, check the Nebraska Supreme Court website in the forms section.  It is forn no cc:3:3 9/98.  Since you are not using a lawyer, anywhere it says attorney you can fill in your name and then put Plaintiff Pro Se in parenthesis.  Using this form you can select whether you want the sheriff or a constable to deliver for you.  I was told that your summons is delivered much faster by a constable than the sheriff.  The clerk at the Douglas County had the phone numbers of several constables and called them on my behalf, which was much appreciated.  I'm not sure if this standard practice.  He was able to find a constable to deliver the summons the same day for $25.

Step 5:
Fill out the form called Praecipe.  There were a bunch of different forms that included the word Praecipe, but you'll want the one that only says Praecipe.  Form number C/SC 123 (6/96).  I couldn't find this online, but they have them in the office.  On the form their is a section that says "To the Clerk of the Court said.  Please issue" and then a bunch of lines where you are supposed to put instructions on the summons.  You can write something like this:

Please issue a summons to Renter’s Name at the Douglas County Corrections Facility located at address at the earliest convenience.  Deliver summons via Constable’s Name (or you could put Sheriff here if delivering by Sheriff)

Step 6: 
Include a copy of your original lease and 3 Day Notice with the rest of the paperwork above and give it to the Clerk in the Civil/Small Claims division at the Douglas County Courthouse.  You'll need to have cash or check to pay the court filing fee ($45) and to pay the constable or sheriff ($25).  You also need two copies of all forms.  The clerk will then look over all the forms and will provide you a receipt that includes your case number and hearing date and time.  In Douglas County, the hearings will usually be set at 9:00 am in Courtroom 20.  They are usually set 10-14 days from the filing date.  If your renter does not show up to the court date, I was told that you win the case by default.  

Other notes:
  • I asked everyone I talked to if there was any faster process besides the eviction process.  Everyone I asked told me the laws are very strict and there is no faster way to evict someone.  
  • Douglas County Court phone number is 402-444-5386 and address is 1819 Farnam St, Omaha, NE.  It is on the "civil" side of the courthouse.
  • If the tenant pays their rent, turns over the keys, and voluntarily vacates the property you can dismiss the lawsuit and not attend your court date.  I would have the tenant sign a lease termination agreement as I was told if you do not handle properly they can sue you for an improper eviction.  Here's a sample termination letter:
___________________________________________________
LEASE TERMINATION AGREEMENT

This Lease Termination Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into between ___________________________., ("Landlord") and _________________., ("Tenant").

WHEREAS, Landlord and Tenant’s predecessor in interest are parties to that certain Lease dated  ________________,    for the property located at address ("Premises"); and

WHEREAS, the parties now desire to provide for the termination of the Lease, and the return of the Leased Premises to Landlord, prior to the current expiration date of the Lease.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of mutual promises contained herein and for other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, it is agreed as follow:

                1. Termination.   The parties agree that in lieu of the original expiration date of_______________________, the Lease shall terminate on ___________________ ("Termination Date").  Prior to the Termination Date, Tenant shall quit the Premises and surrender and return the Premises to Landlord, in clean condition.

                2. Lease Termination Fee.   In consideration for Tenant being relieved of further obligations under the Lease after the Termination Date, Tenant and Landlord agree that Tenant shall____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________by ______________, 2012.

3. Liability of Termination.  Termination of said Lease, however, shall not release Lessee from any acts or obligations there under, whether of indemnity or otherwise, resulting from any acts, omissions, or events happening prior to termination date or thereafter in case by the terms of the said Lease it is provided that anything shall or have to be done after termination date.

4. Binding upon Successors and Assigns.  This Agreement shall be for the benefit of and be binding upon, the parties hereto and their respective successors and assigns.

                5. Final Agreement.  This Agreement shall constitute the final agreement and understanding of the parties on the subject matter hereof.  This Agreement may be modified only by a further writing signed by the parties.

                6. Attorney Fees.  If any legal action is commenced to enforce or interpret the terms of this Lease Termination Agreement, the prevailing party shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees and costs in addition to any other relief to which the prevailing party may be entitled.

7.       Nebraska Law; Illegality.  This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Nebraska.  In case any one or more of the provisions contained herein shall for any reason be held to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable in any respect, such invalidity, illegality or unenforceability shall not affect any other provision of this Agreement, but this Agreement shall be construed as if such invalid, illegal or unenforceable provisions had not been contained herein.

                IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have caused this Agreement to be executed by their duly authorized officers as of the _____ day of _____________, 2012.



LANDLORD:                                                                           TENANT:

____________________________                   _____________________________________

Date:_________________________            Date:_________________________________




________________________________________________

I hope this was helpful to you!