Landlord; release of personal property; when.
(1) A landlord shall release personal property left on the vacated premises to the former tenant or to any person reasonably believed by the landlord to be the owner if such tenant or other person pays the reasonable costs of storage and advertising and takes possession of the property not later than the date specified in the notice for taking possession.
(2) When personal property is not released pursuant to subsection (1) of this section and the notice has stated that the personal property will be sold at a public sale, the landlord shall release the personal property to the former tenant or other person if he or she claims the property prior to sale and pays the reasonable costs of storage, advertising, and preparation for sale incurred prior to such claim and payment.
Source:Laws 1991, LB 36, § 7.
Giving the word "former" its plain and ordinary meaning, "former tenant" under this section includes any past tenant to whom the property may have belonged. Pan v. IOC Realty Specialist, 301 Neb. 256, 918 N.W.2d 273 (2018).
Reading this section in conjunction with section 69-2312, a landlord would not be required to relinquish property to any party that is either (1) not a former tenant or (2) not a person who is reasonably believed by the landlord to be the owner of the personal property at issue. Pan v. IOC Realty Specialist, 301 Neb. 256, 918 N.W.2d 273 (2018).
The purpose of this section is to protect landlords from liability to the owners of personal property when the landlord erroneously surrenders property to a party other than the true owner but who the landlord reasonably believed was the owner. Conversely, if the requesting party is not a former tenant or a person that the landlord reasonably believes owns the personal property, the landlord would not be protected from liability under this section. Pan v. IOC Realty Specialist, 301 Neb. 256, 918 N.W.2d 273 (2018).