Jan E. Beran, Attorney at Law

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General Information Regarding
Nebraska Disposition of Personal Property
Landlord Tenant Law

What to do when a tenant abandons? Nebraska has a law titled the "Disposition of Personal Property Landlord Tenant Act".
The law is found at Neb. R.R.S. §69-2301. The law, adopted in 1991, provides a landlord a method of disposing of a tenant's abandon property.
Why have the law? The law provides for the orderly process of disposing a tenant's personal property left behind following the termination of a tenancy. When the landlord follows the law they will be protected from liability for claims that the property was converted to the landlord's use.
Basically how does the law work? In a nutshell, you inventory the property, move the property to storage, mail the notice, wait 14 days, then dispose of the property according to the provisions of the law.
What real estate is covered? Although the law appears to mainly address residential real estate and self storage units, landlords of commercial or business real estate who follow the procedures outlined in the act are probably protected from liability as well.
Steps you must follow:
  1. Inventory all of the property. To best protect yourself from liability, every item should be specifically identified and listed. Closed trunks, suitcases, and boxes need not be opened at this point.
  2. Fill out the "Notice of Abandon Property". Please note that the form of the notice is set out in the statutes. Landlords creating their own forms should be careful to follow the statute.
    1. For every person who needs to receive a notice (any person who may have an interest in the property including furniture rental places) fill in their name and address following the "TO".
    2. Fill in the name of the tenant and the address where the tenant resided.
    3. Fill in a date, at least 14 days from the day you are mailing the notice, by which the tenant must claim the property.
    4. Check whether you believe the property to be worth less than $1,000 or more than $1,000. (Note: if the property is worth $1,000 or more, you will have to advertise the sale of the property and hold an auction)
      1. If the property is less than $1,000, you must include the following: "Because the property is believed to be worth less than two hundred fifty dollars ($1,000.00), it may be kept, sold, or destroyed without further notice if you fail to reclaim it within the time indicated in this notice."
      2. If the property is worth more than $1,000, you must include the following: "If you fail to reclaim the property, it will be sold at a public sale after notice of sale has been given by publication. You have the right to bid on the property at this sale. After the property is sold and the costs of storage, advertising, and sale are deducted, the remaining money will be turned over to the State Treasurer pursuant to the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act. You may claim the remaining money from the office of the State Treasurer as provided in such act."
    5. Attach a copy of the inventory to the Notice and make a copy for your records.
  3. Sign the Notice and list the name, address and phone of the person to contact regarding the property.
  4. Mail the notice(s) to the last known address of the tenant by regular mail. The law requires that the landlord mail the notice to the tenant (or any other owner of the property) at any address which might reasonably give the person notice (perhaps employment, friend, relative etc.). You may hand deliver the notice if you know where to serve the tenant or other owner of the property.
  5. Move the property to storage being careful not to damage any of the property. If you are using commercial storage, you will be required to pay for the storage. The property does not have to be moved (unless you have rerented the apartment/house). The owner of the property will be responsible for the cost of storage and for the reasonable value of moving the property into storage.
  6. If the tenant or other owner of the property claims the property, you make arrangements for them to pick up the property within a reasonable time (72 hours). The tenant must pay for all costs of the storage and handling but you cannot refuse to release the property until they pay any rent on the premises that may be due.
  7. If the tenant fails to claim the property within the 14 days, if the property is worth less than $1,000, you may dispose of the property as you see fit.
  8. If the property has a value in excess of $1,000 you must auction the property.

Rules Relating to the Sale of
Abandon Property
Disposition of Personal Property Landlord and Tenant Act

  1. Notice of the time and place of the sale shall be given by advertisement of the sale published once a week for two consecutive weeks.
    1. Sale shall be held no sooner than ten days after the first publication.
    2. Last publication shall be held no less than five days before the sale.
    3. For example: Place advertisement to run two consecutive Saturdays, and conduct the sale on the Saturday following the second advertisement.
  2. Advertisement must include:
    1. A description of the goods, described in a manner reasonable adequate to permit the owner of the property to identify it;
    2. The name of the former tenant; and
    3. The time and place of the sale.
  3. Conducting the Auction: The law does not require an auction per se. The only requirement is that there be "competitive bidding". Thus any method of selling the property, which allows prospective buyers to compete for the right to purchase the property is satisfactory.
    1. The auction does not have to be conducted by an Auctioneer. A permit may be required to auction the property in your jurisdiction.
    2. "Tag" or silent auctions. Bidders post a bid on a tag or sheet attached to the property. At the appointed hour for closing the bids, the highest bidder is allowed to purchase the property for the amount bid on the tag.
  4. Distribution of the proceeds of the sale. Unfortunately you cannot retain the proceeds of the sale to recoup any lost rent or damages that you may have suffered. The proceeds must be applied to the costs of the storage and sale and the balance returned to the tenant.
    1. Order of Distribution.
      1. Cost of the sale: includes the cost of the auctioneer, cost of any rental of space at an auction facility, other fees and charges, including an auction permit. Advertising costs of the sale:
      2. Reasonable costs of storage: the actual cost of the storage space which does not exceed the fair rental value of the space reasonable required for the storage of the property and all reasonable costs actually incurred, including the reasonable value of labor actually provided for removing the property, transporting, and storing the property including any disassembly and transportation costs.
    2. Distribution of the balance of the proceeds.
      1. The tenant, an owner other than the tenant or any other person who has an interest in the proceeds shall claim the balance within 30 days after the date of the sale.
      2. The balance if any shall be delivered to the Nebraska State Treasurer for distribution according to the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act.

For more assistance, please call the Beran Law Office, (402) 466-7110.

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