Landlords will routinely ask for an emergency contact for a tenant when beginning a new tenancy. In fact, it’s a good idea to periodically confirm that the emergency contact information is up to date, even with a tenant who is renewing a lease agreement. In the unlikely event of the death of a tenant the emergency contact information will be invaluable in managing through the process of terminating the tenancy agreement.
In fact, Nebraska has a statute that specifically addresses the issue of how to manage the removal of a deceased tenant’s belongings, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-1414(5). While not required, the landlord can ask for a name and contact information of a person authorized to be contacted in the event of the death of tenant. This authorized person would be designated to enter the premises and retrieve and store the tenant’s personal property. The statute states that the landlord must make a reasonable effort to contact the person within ten days after the death of the tenant. The authorized person then has 20 days after that initial communication to notify the landlord about retrieving personal property. After contacting the landlord, the authorized person has 20 days to remove personal property, or retrieve the personal property if the landlord has stored it in a different location.
The landlord can dispose of any remaining personal property not removed by the authorized person and must do so in accordance with the Disposition of Personal Property Landlord and Tenant Act. In the event the landlord is unable to contact the authorized person, or the authorized person does not respond to the landlord’s notification within 20 days after contact is made, the landlord can dispose of the deceased tenant’s personal property as prescribed in the Disposition of Personal Property Landlord and Tenant Act.