What’s New? – CDC Moratorium on non-payment evictions has been extended through June 30, 2021.
What’s New? – Starting March 15, 2021, the New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program will begin accepting applications for assistance with back and future rent and utility payments from landlords and tenants. The program will provide payments directly to landlords and utility companies to help tenants stay in their homes. For more information, visit the program’s website or check out these FAQs.
What’s New? – On February 8, 2021, the Circuit Court is launching a landlord and tenant mediation pilot project in the Concord and Claremont Circuit Courts. Parties involved in eviction cases filed at the pilot courts will be referred to free, confidential and voluntary mediation sessions to their court hearings. All mediation sessions will be conducted remotely, using teleconferencing. Mediators are contracted through the New Hampshire Judicial Branch and are highly qualified professionals who facilitate discussions between parties and help promote a problem-solving atmosphere. Agreements in mediation can often be more flexible, and parties may discover solutions they did not know were available. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator will help file it with the Court and likely will not need to return to court. For more information, check out the Alternative Dispute Resolution website.
What’s New? – See several forms that are being used starting January 1, 2021 in:
RSA 540 Eviction matters
RSA 540-A Actions for Landlords or Tenants
Landlords or tenants in doubt as to the legal requirements of a landlord and tenant action should consult with an attorney or the applicable law, RSA 540 and District Court Rules 5.1 – 5.12. In addition, residential landlords and tenants are encouraged to consult the Section 4024 of the federal CARES Act (codified as 14 U.S.C. § 9058) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Order temporarily halting certain evictions to determine if their cases are covered by those federal laws. Note: The CDC Order has been extended through June 30, 2021.
Information for Landlords
Effective January 1, 2007, the district division is required to provide forms for a Demand for Rent and Eviction Notice (formerly known as the Notice to Quit) in court locations and on the New Hampshire judicial branch website. Although landlords are not required to use these forms, they are still required to use forms with language that complies with both RSA 540:3 and RSA 540:3-1. In addition, pursuant to the Supreme Court’s Renewed and Amended Order Related to the Circuit Court, landlords are required to submit an Affidavit of Compliance with Federal Law approved by the Circuit Court prior to requesting a Landlord/Tenant Writ in all residential evictions.
Cost of writ:
The Landlord/Tenant Writ must be purchased from the court, completed (except for the return date), filed with the court, and filing fee paid prior to service of process.
The Demand for Rent (if applicable) and Eviction Notice must have been delivered to the tenant and must have expired prior to the landlord’s filing of the Landlord/Tenant Writ. Please note that the CARES Act, effective March 27, 2020, impacts the notice period for “covered property” if a basis for eviction is non-payment of rent.
If the Landlord/Tenant Writ includes a claim for unpaid rent, a completed statement of the claim and affidavit of damages must accompany the Landlord/Tenant Writ to be served upon the tenant. This form will be provided at the time of the purchase of the Landlord/Tenant Writ at no extra charge.
For all residential evictions, the Court will require an Affidavit of Compliance with Federal Law prior to issuing a Landlord/Tenant Writ. The Affidavit of Compliance with Federal Law must also accompany the Landlord/Tenant Writ to be served upon the tenant.
It is the responsibility of the landlord to deliver the completed Landlord/Tenant Writ, the Affidavit of Compliance with Federal Law and accompanying affidavit of damages and statement of claim (if applicable) to the sheriff for service upon the tenant. With the sheriff's assistance the return date on the Landlord/Tenant Writ will be completed. Once service upon the tenant has been made, the landlord must file the return of service with the court.
If the tenant does not file an Appearance, no court hearing will be scheduled and the court will issue a Notice of Default. If the tenant does file an Appearance, a trial will be scheduled within approximately ten (10) days. If the tenant does not appear at the court hearing, a Notice of Default will be issued.
Information for Tenants
Tenants who wish to be heard at a court hearing should complete an Appearance form for Landlord/Tenant cases (available at the court and online) and file it with the court on or prior to the return date indicated on the Landlord/Tenant Writ.
The return date is not the date on which the case will be heard. If the tenant files an Appearance form with the court, the matter will be scheduled for trial within approximately ten (10) days. If the Landlord/Tenant Writ contains a claim for unpaid rent, the tenant may file a counterclaim. A counterclaim must be filed on or before the return date indicated in the Landlord/Tenant Writ.
The landlord and tenant will be notified by mail of the trial date.
If the tenant fails to file the Appearance form on or prior to the return date indicated on the Landlord/Tenant Writ, or if the tenant fails to appear at the court hearing, a Notice of Default will be issued against the tenant. If the Landlord/Tenant Writ contains a claim for unpaid rent, a judgment for that amount may be entered against the tenant. If the tenant does not file a Motion to Strike Default (the Motion to Strike Default must contain certain information which is contained on the Notice of Default) the court will issue a Notice of Judgment and Writ of Possession which allows the landlord to take possession of the rented premises. The Notice of Judgment and Writ of Possession will not issue for at least five (5) business days from the date of the Notice of Default.
If the trial results in judgment for the tenant, the Writ of Possession will not issue. If the trial results in judgment for the landlord, a Writ of Possession may issue. The tenant then has seven (7) days from the Notice of Judgment date to file a Notice of Intent to Appeal with the Circuit Court, and 30 days to file an appeal with the Supreme Court. If a Notice of Intent to Appeal is filed, there will be a requirement that weekly rent be paid by the tenant either to the court or to the landlord. The court may require payment of one week’s rent at the time the Notice of Intent to Appeal is filed.
For further information regarding tenant rights see the New Hampshire Legal Aid website: http://www.nhlegalaid.org/self-help-guides/housing/evictions