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Frequently Asked Questions about the New Hampshire Courts Return to Full Operations

Supreme

Superior

Circuit

Supreme Court

1. Is the NH Supreme Court conducting business?
Yes, the Supreme Court is open for business during normal business and the clerk’s office is still available to receive and docket filings during its normal business hours (8:30 am to 4:30 pm).The public will also have access to both public kiosks in the Supreme Court building.

2. Is the Law Library open?
The Law Library is open to the public. Researchers who have questions should call 603-271-3777 or email lawlibrary@courts.state.nh.us. You must give your name, phone number, and/or email so that we can contact you if needed. 

3. Is the NH Supreme Court continuing to hear oral arguments?
The Supreme Court resumed in-person oral arguments in the courtroom on May 5. Schedules can be found at the Supreme Court oral argument calendar here: https://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/orals/index.htm.

4. Where can I get answers to specific questions about my case?
You can request information or assistance regarding a Supreme Court case by calling (603) 271-2646 to reach the clerk’s office during normal business hours.


Superior Court

1. Are all of the Superior Courts processing cases?
Yes.  All of our courts are staffed and processing cases. 

2. Is the Superior Court conducting any hearings?
The Superior Court is conducting in-person hearings for most matters, although some previously scheduled remote hearings are continuing. All emergency matters and time-sensitive subjects that involve people’s liberty, such as bail hearings, plea hearings that result in the release of a defendant and other criminal and civil matters the parties deem urgent, are being conducted in person.  For example, a pretrial hearing to resolve issues that would help the parties settle a case may constitute an urgent matter.  If you are unsure please contact the clerk of court in the court in which your case was filed.  You may reach the clerk by contacting the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234.

3. What about my deadlines for filing or responding to a motion? Have those been moved?
All deadlines set forth in court rules, court orders, statutes, ordinances, administrative rules, administrative orders or otherwise that were moved to May 4 are still in effect.  Filings which would have a response come due after the May 4 extension have not had their deadlines changed.

  • Example 1: If a motion to dismiss was filed on April 4, your 10-day deadline to respond was extended to May 4.
  • Example 2: If a motion to dismiss was filed on April 28, which falls before the May 4 extension ends, your deadline to respond remains 10 days or May 8.
  • Example 3: If a motion to dismiss was filed on May 8, which fall after the May 4 extension ends, your deadline to respond remains 10 days or May 16.

Please note that the first two emergency orders did not toll the deadlines, but instead extended the deadlines to May 4, 2020. 

4. How do I get access to Superior Court case files?
The Superior Court has updated its online portal to expand free access to some electronic files. This means parties in selected criminal or civil case can access files in their case by following directions at https://odypa.nhecourt.us/portal. Case summaries of all non-confidential cases will also available online to anyone. 

You may also come into the courthouse to access the public kiosks. If the information you seek is not available to you on the portal or kiosk, you can call the Information Center to request help accessing case information at 1-855-212-1234, but because of high volumes of calls, there may be a delay before we can fulfill your request.

Public kiosks became available again on June 14.

5. What if I am willing to have my non-emergency hearing conducted by video or telephonically?
We will conduct any hearings by video or telephonically if you contact the clerk of court to make the request. You may reach the clerk by contacting the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234.

6. When will my jury trial occur?
Consistent with the continued guidance from health officials and the current COVID-19 data, the Court has decided to resume jury operations in all counties. You will receive a scheduling notice when your jury trials is set to begin.

7.  Is the Superior Court conducting grand jury proceedings?
Grand jury proceedings began in all the Superior Courts as of May 14.  


Circuit Court: District/Family/Probate

Hearings - Circuit Court: District/Family/Probate

1. Are the Circuit courthouses open for business?
The courthouses are fully open. You may come to the court to file or review paperwork, pay a fine, or conduct any business that you have.

2. Are the public kiosks open?
The kiosks will be available again beginning on June 14th.

3. How are Circuit Court hearings being held?
The Circuit Court held hearings in person, and via telephone or video throughout the pandemic. Moving forward many hearings will be held in-person as they were prior to the pandemic and some will continue to be remote. The Circuit Court issued Administrative Order 2021-05 which explains that certain types of hearings will be conducted by video or telephone.

4. I have a court hearing scheduled. I am not sure whether or not I have to come to court or participate by phone or video for my hearing. What should I do?
If you have questions about a specific case, please contact the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234 and they can tell you whether your case is scheduled to be in-person or remote.

5. When will my cancelled or postponed case be rescheduled?
Hearings will be rescheduled in accordance with statutorily mandated timelines, court scheduling protocols, and individual court and judicial resources. This means that some cases will necessarily move more quickly than others. You will receive a notice when your hearing is rescheduled.

6. I received a notice from the court saying my hearing will happen over the phone but I don’t have access to a phone. What do I do?
You may attend the hearing in person. Or, you can send a letter to the address on your court notice explaining that you do not have access to a phone and that you are requesting a later date for your hearing. Depending on the type of case, the court may or may not be able to grant your request.

7.
I need to file a document for a hearing that is coming up soon, and the document requires notarization. How do I get it notarized?
During the state of emergency, the courts will accept all documents without notarization.  However, the document will have to be notarized later, when courthouses reopen to the general public.

 
8. I owe a fine to the court. Will the court accept payment?
Yes. You may either pay your fine at the court or mail a check to the court. Alternatively, you can call the Information Center, which will route you to the court where the fine is owed so you can provide credit card information. NOTE: Due dates for fines are no longer extended. If you owe a fine to the court and are unable to pay, you must file a motion with the court requesting relief.

 
Domestic Violence

9.   I need to file for an order of protection or a restraining order, how do I do that?
If you are in immediate danger, call 911. The court forms to request an order of protection are available online or in person at the courthouse. Unless you are working with a Crisis Center or Family Justice Center, completed forms must be brought to the courthouse in person so a judge can make a decision while you are there For assistance with safety planning, information, and referrals, crisis center victim advocates are available 24/7 at 1-866-644-3574 (domestic violence and stalking) and 1-800-277-5570 (sexual assault).

10. Is it possible to file for an order of protection or restraining order electronically? Until further notice, individuals may file a Domestic Violence or Stalking Petition electronically into a specially created email box by contacting a Crisis Center or Family Justice Center. Individuals are still able to file Domestic Violence and Stalking petitions in person at any Circuit Court location. For more information, please review the Circuit Court’s webpage on Domestic Violence and Stalking Petitions.

Criminal Matters

11. My criminal hearing has been cancelled but I would like to resolve it now. How can I enter a plea of guilty?
If you have an attorney and have reached a plea agreement, your attorney may contact the court to request that a telephonic plea be scheduled. If you do not have an attorney, reach out to the prosecutor to negotiate.  If you have reached an agreement with the prosecutor, the prosecutor may contact the court to request that a plea be scheduled. You will receive notice from the court when it is scheduled.

12. I was told that I would not have an arraignment. How will my case proceed?
The courts are now open to the general public and criminal cases filed after June 7, 2021, will be scheduled for in person arraignments at the courts.  If your case was filed before June 8, 2021, the Court will automatically enter a plea of “not guilty” on your behalf and schedule your first hearing which will be a “telephonic status conference”. You will also receive copies of your complaints in the mail with some additional information based on the level of offense you are charged with. For example, if you are charged with a Class A misdemeanor, you may wish to request court appointed counsel to represent you and should fill out a Request for Lawyer form as soon as possible and mail or bring it to the court.

13. What happens after the “telephonic status conference”?
Some cases will be resolved at the status conference by plea or will be scheduled for a plea in the future. Some cases will be scheduled for a trial to be held in the future.

Evictions
Due to rapidly changing Federal law and policy, eviction cases are subject to a variety of new and interconnecting requirements and restrictions. This FAQ section attempts to answer some of the basic questions about how the Circuit Court is responding to these new policies. However, given the complex and evolving nature of Federal policy, landlords and tenants should seek legal counsel regarding their rights and obligations in eviction cases.

General Questions

14. What, if any, financial assistance is available to landlord or tenants who are dealing with challenges paying rent or utility bills?
The New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program (NHERAP) provides assistance with rent and utility payments for eligible tenants. NHERAP can assist eligible tenants with both back and future rent and utility payments to help tenants stay in their homes and compensate landlords. NHERAP will make rent payments directly to landlords on behalf of eligible tenants. Unlike prior rental assistance programs, landlords, with the consent of their tenants, may apply for assistance on their tenant’s behalf. For more information, go to the program’s website or check out these FAQs.
Tenants may also be eligible for assistance through their town or city welfare office.

15. I have applied for the New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program (NHERAP). What does that mean for my eviction case?
The Court does not have a direct role in administering the NHERAP and parties are not required to be involved in an eviction case to apply for NHERAP. A pending application or potential eligibility for NHERAP will not pause an eviction case or prevent an eviction from being ordered. Tenants must still file an appearance with the Court and attend any scheduled hearings if they want to contest the eviction. Tenants who do not file an appearance or attend a scheduled hearing may be evicted without further notice, even if they have applied for NHERAP.
However, landlords and tenants with pending eviction cases who wish to seek assistance from NHERAP are encouraged to continue their cases to allow time to apply for assistance. Landlords and tenants who reach such an agreement should file the agreement or a motion to continue based on such an agreement with the Court where the eviction case is pending.

16.  What is the status of eviction cases in New Hampshire?
On August 26, 2021, the United States Supreme Court issued an order ending the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary moratorium on certain evictions. As a result, new eviction cases in the Circuit Court are being processed as normal. In cases which were paused by the moratorium because the tenant gave the landlord a CDC declaration, timelines which were placed on hold started over on August 27, 2021. See the chart below for more details.
Additionally, landlords are always required to strictly comply with the requirements of the eviction law, RSA 540. For more information about the requirements for evictions, see this information sheet.

17. I was scheduled for a hearing in an eviction case, but it was canceled due to the CDC moratorium. What happens now?
The court will begin rescheduling canceled hearings after August 27, 2021. You will receive a hearing notice in the mail. If you no longer need a hearing (for example, because you have reached an agreement to resolve the case or the tenant has vacated the unit and the landlord is not seeking a judgment for unpaid rent), please notify the court immediately.

18. I have more questions about my case. What should I do?
If you have questions about eviction cases generally, you should also review the court’s landlord and tenant website. If you have questions about your case, such as whether a hearing has been scheduled, you may call the Court at 1-855-212-1234.
The law prohibits court personnel, including the judge, from giving legal advice or counseling to any party. If you have questions you are unable to answer by reviewing this document, the court’s website, or doing your own research, you may want to consult an attorney. However, legal assistance may be available to you. Go to the Court’s self-help site for more information.

Tenants

19. I received an eviction notice but gave my landlord a declaration during the CDC moratorium. I never received a Landlord and Tenant Writ. What should I do now?
If you have not been served with a Landlord and Tenant Writ, you do not need to file anything with the court, because there is no pending eviction case. Your landlord may still seek to evict you based on unpaid rent or other reasons that were paused during the CDC moratorium. If you are served with a Landlord and Tenant Writ, you must file an appearance with the court on or before the Return Date listed on the Landlord and Tenant Writ if you wish to contest the eviction. If you do not file an appearance, the court may issue an eviction order without hearing from you.

20. I was served with a Landlord and Tenant Writ, gave my landlord a declaration under the CDC moratorium, and was never scheduled for a hearing. What should I do now?
If you have not filed an appearance with the court, you must file an appearance with the court listed on the Writ by no later than 4:00 PM on September 3, 2021. If you do not file an appearance by that date, the court may issue an eviction order without hearing from you. If you have already filed an appearance with the court, you will receive notice in the mail notifying you of the date of your hearing.

21. I lost my eviction case, but I gave my landlord a declaration under the CDC moratorium and was not evicted by the sheriff. What happens now?
Unless you filed a timely appeal with the Supreme Court and have been paying rent while the appeal was pending, the court will issue a Writ of Possession to your landlord on or about August 27, 2021, if it has not already been issued. If something has changed about your case that you think the court should know about (such as you reaching an agreement with your landlord to start a new tenancy) you should file a motion as soon as possible. If you filed a timely appeal with the Supreme Court and have continued paying rent as directed by the court, your appeal will continue and no writ of possession will be issued until the appeal is resolved.

22. I defaulted (did not respond to a Landlord and Tenant Writ or missed a hearing) and received a Notice of Default. I then gave my landlord a declaration under the CDC moratorium and a Default Judgment was not entered. What will happen now?
You have until 4:00 PM on September 3, 2021 to file a motion to strike the default with the court handling the eviction. Any motion to strike must:

  • set forth all the facts and circumstances explaining why the you defaulted (did not respond to the eviction or missed a hearing) and all the reasons why the court should strike the default;
  • specifically set forth your defense to the landlord-tenant writ filed by the landlord and all the facts upon which the defense is based; and
  • state that you understand that making a false statement in the pleading may subject you to criminal penalties.

If you do not file a motion to strike, the Court will issue a default judgment and a Writ of Possession allowing the sheriff to evict you on or after September 7, 2021.

23. I appealed my case to the Supreme Court and lost, but gave my landlord a declaration under the CDC moratorium and was not evicted. When will a Writ of Possession be issued?
Provided that the Supreme Court has already issued a mandate (formal notice to the Circuit Court of its decision), the Writ of Possession will be issued on or about August 27, 2021.

24. A court hearing has been scheduled in my eviction case. I want to make an agreement with my landlord to stay in my rented premises and pay my rent. Can I do that?
That is possible. The parties can work out an agreement prior to the hearing on the merits date or after a judgment has been issued for the landlord but before the Writ of Possession (eviction order) has been issued. The landlord and tenant may make any agreement about repayment or continuing the tenancy allowed by law.

The law also provides for a special category of court-supervised agreements, sometimes called “Pay and Stay” agreements, in which a judgment for the landlord is issued but the Writ of Possession is withheld on the condition that the tenant comply with a payment plan. If the tenant does not comply with the payment plan or stay current on rent, the landlord may file an affidavit of non-compliance with the court and, in many cases, obtain a Writ of Possession without further hearing within 5 business days. If the tenant makes all required payments, the case is dismissed. The Court provides an Agreement to Stay Writ of Possession (NHJB-2749-D) form that complies with the law, RSA 540:13-c, II, governing such agreements.
 
25. I am being evicted for non-payment of rent. I now have the money (or a rental assistance voucher) to pay my back rent. What should I do?
You have the right to avoid eviction for non-payment of rent by paying your landlord the full amount of rent and other charges due, plus fees. To avoid eviction, you must pay the full amount prior to a hearing in court, which usually occurs within a month of the eviction notice being served.

  • If you pay before the expiration date of the eviction notice, you must pay the landlord the amount listed on the eviction notice plus $15 as liquidated damages.
  • If you pay after an eviction case is filed in court, you must pay all rent due and owing through the time of such payment, plus $15 as liquidated damages, the landlord’s filing fee ($125), and service costs, which are listed on the Landlord and Tenant Writ.

You must make the payment with cash, certified check, prepaid money order, electronic transfer, or other guaranteed or immediately drawable funds, including a rental assistance voucher. Tenants may only use this procedure to avoid eviction 3 times in any 12-month period. Additionally, if your case is scheduled for a hearing, you must attend the hearing and provide proof of your payment, unless you receive notice from the Court that hearing is canceled.

26. Can my landlord turn off my heat or utilities?
No. Landlords are always prohibited from willfully causing the interruption or termination of any utility service provided to a tenant, except as necessary for repairs and emergencies. If your utilities are shut off by your landlord you can seek emergency relief through a 540-A:4 petition.

Landlords

27. My tenant was covered by the CDC moratorium. Does my tenant still owe rent for the period covered by the moratorium?
The obligation to pay rent, including back rent, was not changed by the CDC Order. The Order stated that landlords could continue “charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.”

28. I obtained a Landlord and Tenant Writ but did not serve it because of the CDC moratorium. May I still serve the Writ or do I need to start a new case?
Yes. You have 60 days (until October 27, 2021) to serve a Landlord and Tenant Writ issued before or during the CDC moratorium. However, if you serve an old Writ, the court will only consider the reason for eviction and any unpaid rent listed on the eviction notice listed on the Writ. If you wish to change the reason for eviction or change the amount of unpaid rent, you must obtain a new Writ and pay a new filing fee.

29. I won my eviction case or Supreme Court appeal of my eviction case, but the Writ of Possession was not issued because my tenant gave me a declaration under the CDC moratorium. When will I receive a Writ of Possession?
The court will begin issuing Writs of Possession in cases that were paused due to the CDC moratorium after August 27, 2021. If you no longer require a Writ of Possession (for example, because you have reached an agreement with the tenant or the tenant has vacated the unit) please notify the court immediately. Note: If you made an agreement with the tenant to start a new tenancy, you may not serve the old Writ.

30. I obtained a Writ of Possession but my tenant provided me with a declaration under the CDC moratorium. What should I do now?
In general, a Writ of Possession must be executed within 90 days of the date listed on the Writ. If execution of the Writ was paused because of the CDC moratorium, the Writ must be served within 90 days of August 27, 2021. If more than 90 days have passed since the date of the Writ, you may obtain a new Writ from the Court and bring it to the sheriff for service. Note: If you made an agreement with the tenant to start a new tenancy, you may not serve the old Writ.

31. I have heard that the federal CARES Act affects evictions. How does the Act affect my case?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act provides some protection to residential tenants in certain “covered properties,” as defined by the law, including any property that has a federally backed mortgage loan or participates, or has any tenant participating, in various federal housing programs. As of January 1, 2021, the only section of the CARES Act that is still in effect is the requirement that landlords of “covered properties” provide 30 days’ notice to tenants prior to filing for an eviction based on non-payment of rent or fees.

32. Do I still need to file an Affidavit of Compliance with Federal Law to start a residential eviction?
Yes. Certain portions of the federal CARES Act are still in effect. You must file an Affidavit of Compliance with Federal Law and to receive a Landlord Tenant Writ and start a case. If you do not file the Affidavit, your case will not be accepted. The Affidavit must be served on the tenant by the sheriff, along with the Writ. The Affidavit can be found of the court’s website.

33. A court hearing has been scheduled in my eviction case. I want to make an agreement with my tenant to permit them to stay in the rented premises and make a payment plan. Can I do that?
Yes. The parties can work out an agreement prior to the trial date or after a judgment has been issued for the landlord but before the Writ of Possession (eviction order) has been issued. The landlord and tenant may make any agreement about repayment or continuing the tenancy allowed by law. The law also provides for a special category of court-supervised agreements, sometimes called “Pay and Stay” agreements, in which a judgment for the landlord is issued but the writ of possession is withheld on the condition that the tenant comply with a payment plan. If the tenant does not comply with the payment plan or stay current on rent, the landlord may file an affidavit of non-compliance with the court and, in many cases, obtain a writ of possession without further hearing within 5 business days. If the tenant makes all required payments, the case is dismissed. The Court provides an Agreement to Stay Writ of Possession (NHJB-2749-D) form that complies with the law, RSA 540:13-c, II, governing such agreements.

Common Landlord and Tenant Scenarios following the Expiration of the CDC Moratorium

Situation

Action

Date

Court granted judgment for landlord and tenant did not appeal or defaulted appeal, but gave landlord CDC declaration before Writ of Possession was issued

Issuance of Writ of Possession

Starting on August 27, 2021

Supreme Court affirmed judgment for landlord, but tenant gave landlord CDC declaration before Writ of Possession was issued

Issuance of Writ of Possession

Starting on August 27, 2021

Tenant was served with Landlord and Tenant Writ but gave landlord CDC declaration and never filed an appearance.

Deadline to file an appearance if tenant wishes to contest eviction

4:00 PM on September 3, 2021

Court issued Notice of Default, but tenant gave landlord a CDC declaration before default judgment issued

Deadline to file a motion to strike the default

4:00 PM on September 3, 2021

Parties signed Agreement to Stay Writ of Possession. Landlord filed Affidavit of Non-Compliance but tenant gave landlord CDC declaration.

Deadline to file objection to Affidavit of Non-Compliance

4:00 PM on September 2, 2021

Landlord obtain Landlord and Tenant Writ, but did not serve it because tenant gave landlord a CDC declaration

Deadline to serve the Landlord and Tenant Writ after August 1, 2021

October 26, 2021

Landlord obtained Writ of Possession, but tenant gave landlord CDC declaration before Writ of Possession was served

Deadline to serve Writ of Possession after August 1, 2021

November 25, 2021


 

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