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The utility disconnect policy for tenants and landlords in Neligh was the source of heavy discussion during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 10.
Dana Klabenes, the City Clerk, started the conversation by bringing up a recent incident. After a situation involving a tenant of Don Zegers moving out without paying their utility bill, Klabenes said they wanted to know exactly how to handle the situation.
“If it’s a disconnect, then the bill has to be paid before we turn it back on. In this case, the tenant had already moved out when the bill came up, so we tried to minimize what we could on the bill to turn utilities back on...We are asking tonight to figure out how exactly to handle the situation,” she said.
Jim McNally, the City Attorney, said that the current policy went into effect years ago.
“It was established 10 or 15 years ago...the discussion came about because tenants were leaving without paying their utility bills and there was the question about who was responsible for the utility bills, and the discussion at that time was that the landlord should take care of it with the deposit that the put up front, and that other utilities problems should be paid with the deposit the put in the beginning,” he said.
Mayor Joe Hartz voiced his opinion on the policy, saying that he does not agree with the idea of the landlord having to take care of the problem.
“From the business side of things, I don’t know how we do it. I don’t think it's right. I told Dana that. We are contracted with the tenant for electric usage and an electric bill, and to collect it from the owner of the property, to me, isn’t a very agreeable situation. I don’t think it's right,” Hartz said.
City council member Leonard Miller said that because the landlords are the ones that benefit off the tenants living there, they should be the ones that have to deal with situations that arise.
“The rental man that gets the benefit from that rent should monitor those situations, and if people leave town, it should be their (the landlord’s) responsibility,” he said.
Klabenes rounded up the discussion and reaffirmed council members about what the discussion is for.
“This isn’t something that you have to come up with a policy tonight. This is something to be thinking about so that if we chose to make any changes, we can put it together.”