New Hampshire Legal Aid

Legal Information, Referrals, and Pro Se Assistance
Home » Self Help Guides » Housing » Evictions » The Eviction Process

The Eviction Process

Tue, 08/28/2012 - 22:14 -- admin
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

In order to evict, a landlord must always follow the correct procedure and in most situations must prove that there is good cause to evict.  The tenant must be given written notice and may ask for a court hearing.

Written Notice

Demand for Rent

If you are being evicted for not paying rent, your landlord must serve you with a Demand for Rent.  The demand tells you how much rent you owe, and cannot ask for more rent than you actually owe.  The demand must be served personally (handed to you) or left at your home before or at the same time as the eviction notice (sometimes called a notice to quit).

Eviction Notice - formerly known as Notice to Quit

In all evictions your landlord must serve you with an Eviction Notice or a Notice to Quit.  This notice must:

  1. Be in writing;
  2. Be served personally or left at your door (a sheriff does not have to serve it);
  3. State the specific reason for the eviction;
  4. Give you at least 7 days’ notice to leave if the reason for the eviction is because: of nonpayment; your behavior has harmed the health or safety of other tenants or the landlord; or you have caused substantial damage to the premises;
  5. Give you at least 30 days’ notice to leave in all other cases;
  6. Tell you of your right to cure, if the eviction is for nonpayment of rent.
  7. Both the Demand for Rent and the Eviction Notice/Notice to Quit must be either handed to you directly or left at your home.

The right to cure means that you can avoid eviction by paying all of the back rent – plus $15 – by the date the eviction notice/notice to quit expires.  If you pay on time, you can defeat the eviction and do not have to move.  You can only cure three times in a 12 month period.

 If a landlord fails to take any of the steps described above, a tenant can ask the court to dismiss (drop) the eviction.

The Court Process

You do not have to move out by the date the Notice expires.  Only a judge can issue an order requiring you to move out.

Landlord/Tenant Writ

If you have not left by the time the Notice expires, the landlord can begin the legal process at the District Court.  The sheriff will serve a Writ, either on you personally or at your home.  Read the entire Writ carefully. The first paragraph will indicate the return date.

If you want a hearing to challenge the eviction or to ask for more time, you must ask for a hearing before the return date.

Important:  There will not be a hearing on the return date. There will not be a hearing at all unless you ask for one.

If your landlord has asked for unpaid rent on the Writ, the hearing may also result in a money judgment which can be enforced against you.  Unless you agree with the amount the landlord claims you owe, you should ask for a hearing, even if you have already moved.

Appearance form

You ask for a hearing by filing an appearance form before the return date.  It is a simple form that you get from the court.  You need to fill out the appearance form, leave it with the clerk, and send a copy to the landlord or the landlord’s attorney.

After you file your appearance, you will receive a notice in the mail telling you the date of your hearing, which will usually be within the next 10 days.

If you want your hearing to be recorded you can check a box on the appearance form.

Important:  If you do not file an appearance form, you will lose your eviction case.  The court will mail you a notice that you have lost your case, and can issue a writ of possession against you 3 days later.

Discovery

Discovery is how you find out more about the evidence your landlord has against you.  You do this by asking the landlord written questions (interrogatories) about your case. All requests for discovery must be made within five days of the return day.  You have the right to ask the court to postpone the date of your eviction hearing if the landlord does not respond in time to your written questions.  For more information about using discovery, please call LARC at our toll-free number 1-800-639-5290..

Going to Court

If you make an agreement with your landlord before the hearing, protect yourself by getting it in writing or by making sure the case is withdrawn.

Landlord’s burden of proof

In most cases your landlord has to have good cause to evict you.  The Eviction Notice/Notice to Quit must state the specific reason for the eviction.  At the eviction hearing, your landlord must prove that you are being evicted for one of the reasons stated in the Notice.  Your landlord may evict you for one of the following reasons:

  • Nonpayment of rent;
  • Substantial damage to the premises;
  • Violation of the lease;
  • Behavior of the tenant or members of the tenant’s family that harms the health or safety of others;
  • Lead paint hazard, please call LARC if this is the given reason;
  • Other good cause. Before beginning an eviction for other good cause based on something you did or failed to do, the landlord must first give you a written warning.

 Retaliation & discrimination

Your landlord cannot evict you for the following reasons:

  • retaliation (for activities such as reporting housing code violations);
  • nonpayment when you are withholding rent because of housing code violations (see "Rent Withholding”); or
  • discrimination on the basis of race, age, or other protected category.

Any one of these can be a defense that can defeat an eviction.  (See Tenant Rights for details).

Tenant’s defenses

To win the right to stay in your rental property, you must convince the court:

  • that the landlord has not followed the correct procedure (see “Eviction Process - Written Notice”); or
  • that the landlord does not have good cause to evict you; or
  • that you do not owe the money in an eviction for nonpayment of rent. 

Non-payment evictions

In a non-payment eviction, the only money a landlord can ask for is unpaid rent.  To prove that you do not owe the landlord money, and to be able to stay, there are several defenses that you may raise.  The defenses include that:

  • you do not owe the rent the landlord claims you owe; or
  • you were lawfully withholding rent; or
  • the landlord owes you more than you owe the landlord.

 Your landlord might owe you money due to:

  • violations of the security deposit law (see Security Deposit);
  • poor conditions in your apartment which made it worth much less than the rent your landlord charged; violations of RSA 540-A, for locking you out or shutting off your utilities (see Tenant’s Rights);
  • money your landlord owes you for any other reason.

You must notify the court and the landlord by the return date on the Writ if you want to raise defenses that will reduce the amount of money you owe the landlord.  You do this by writing on the appearance form that you intend to raise these defenses (see “Appearance form”).

Before you raise any of these defenses, please call LARC for further assistance at our toll-free number 1-800-639-5290.

Discretionary Stay

In all evictions, the court has the authority to grant a stay of up to 90 days, during which time the Writ of Possession is “stayed” (delayed) by the court. The judge may grant all, none, or part of the 90 days allowed by law. You must pay rent weekly in advance during the stay period. If you miss a payment, the landlord can immediately go back to the court and obtain a Writ of Possession.

You should request a stay prior to the end of the hearing. The judge will consider how difficult it will be for you to move, whether your children will have to change schools, your ability to pay rent during the stay, whether you have a date for moving, and how a delay will hurt the landlord.  If the court grants a stay, at the end of the stay period the landlord still must serve you with a Writ of Possession.

Writ of Possession

If the court finds against you or if you are defaulted for failing to file an appearance, the court will issue a Writ of Possession.  This writ authorizes your landlord to remove you from the property. You may receive a warning or a visit from the sheriff first, and then the sheriff will return to remove you from the property. It is best to remove your personal property before this happens.

Until the writ of possession is served on you by the sheriff, it is unlawful for your landlord to force you to leave the property.  If your landlord locks you out, shuts of your utilities, or tries in any way to make you leave without the eviction process, you can go to your District Court, ask for 540-A petition, and request the court to order your landlord to stop.  (See Tenant Rights for more information).

Important:  If you cannot take your belongings with you when you move, your landlord must take care of your personal property for 7 days after you move out.  During this period, the landlord must allow you to return for your property upon request without requiring payment of any rent or storage fees.  After 7 days, the landlord may give away your belongings without notice to you. 

Appeal

You can appeal your case to the NH Supreme Court. To be able to appeal, you must file a Notice of Intent to Appeal with the District Court within 7 days of the date on the notice of judgment, followed by a formal appeal to the Supreme Court within 30 days of the judgment.  Please call LARC for more information at our toll-free number 1-800-639-5290.

If Your Landlord Evicts You And Sues For Damages

If you are being evicted for nonpayment of rent, your landlord may also attempt to collect unpaid rent from you at the same time.  New Hampshire law now allows a landlord in an eviction to sue for money damages in the same case as the eviction.

Because an eviction can result in a money judgment against you as well as an order to leave the premises, it is important to attend the eviction hearing even if you have already vacated.

A nonpayment eviction begins with a demand for rent.  Next (usually at the same time) you will be served with an eviction notice/notice to quit, telling you the date by which your landlord expects you to leave.  Up to this point, you still do not know whether your landlord intends to simply evict you from the property, or whether he is trying to get you to pay damages as well.  The next step is for the sheriff to serve you with a writ of summons, which is the beginning of the legal action.

Claim for damages

If your landlord is suing you for back rent in the same action, the landlord-tenant writ will tell you.  There is a paragraph in the middle of the writ that explains about suing for damages and has a space for the landlord to fill in an amount.  If this space is blank, then the case will be only about taking back possession of the property.  If there is an amount specified, it cannot exceed $1500.00.  Court rules also require that the landlord attach a statement of the amount of damages (a statement explaining why the money is owed and itemizing the damages the landlord is claiming).

This amount should include only rent, and no other fees or charges.

A landlord can choose not to include a damages claim, and sue you separately for money owed, usually in Small Claims Court.  If you disagree with the claim, you should appear at the hearing to disprove the claim and to present any counterclaims that would reduce or eliminate the judgment against you.

Defenses

        * If the damage claim exceeds $1,500.00, you should object and ask that the claim be dismissed entirely. Alternatively, the court may simply reduce the claim to $1,500.00.

        * If the writ is not accompanied by a statement of claim of damages, you should object and ask that the claim be dismissed entirely for failure to comply with court rules. The court may dismiss the claim or the landlord may be allowed to submit a statement at the hearing. If a statement of damages is presented, you should insist on enough time to go over the statement and prepare a response. If the claim is complicated, it would be appropriate to ask the court to postpone the hearing to give you time to respond.

        * If the claim includes anything other than rent, you should object and ask that the claim be dismissed entirely. The court may dismiss the claim, but should at least reduce the claim to include only rent.

        * Any objection to the landlord’s claim can be made in writing or orally, at the hearing itself. If you wait until the hearing to object, be sure to make your objection as early in the proceeding as possible.

Counterclaims

If your landlord is making a claim against you, you have the right to raise your own claims for money owed you by your landlord. Because these arise out of the same transaction, they are called counterclaims. By raising these counterclaims at the eviction hearing, you may be able to reduce the amount of money that you owe your landlord. More importantly, if you can prove that your landlord owes you more money than he claims you owe him, the court must dismiss the eviction, which would allow you to stay in your home.

You must include on your appearance form a statement of any claims you plan to raise at the hearing. The appearance form that the court will give you provides a space, near the top. This statement does not need to be detailed, but must be sufficient to let the court and the landlord know what type of issues you intend to raise. If you do not include these counterclaims on your appearance, the rules prohibit you from doing so later. You can try to raise them at trial, but you must convince the court that there was a good reason why they were not included in your appearance.

Types of counterclaims

You can raise any claim for money that you think the landlord owes you. For the most part, this will usually be limited to disputes that arose from the landlord-tenant relationship, but it is also possible to bring up debts or claims that had nothing to do with your tenancy. Possibilities include:

        * violations of health & safety codes (warranty of habitability violations);

        * violations of the security deposit statute (see Security Deposit);

               a. asking for or receiving more than 1 month’s rent;

               b. failing to provide you with a receipt for your deposit;

               c. failing to return your deposit within 30 days.

        * violations of RSA 540-A

               a. lockouts;

               b. unauthorized entry into your apartment;

               c. utility shutoffs;

               d. harassment.

        * money the landlord promised to pay for work on the unit;

        * wages the landlord owes you, if he was also your employer;

        * money the landlord promised to credit toward your rent.

How to use counterclaims in court

The landlord, as plaintiff, will present his case to the court first. You will have the opportunity to cross-examine him and raise any doubts that you can about his claim for damages. When he is finished, you will get your chance to explain your counterclaims. This is when you should provide any proof, through your testimony, the testimony of other witnesses, and documents to show that you are owed money, and how much that should be. When you are through with your evidence, you should summarize it all for the court. If you think you have proven that your landlord owes you more than you owe him, ask the court to dismiss the case against you. If you have proven that your landlord owes you more than you owe him, you can also ask the court to issue an award for damages for the additional amount owed to you up to $1,500.00.

If your landlord chooses to include a claim for damages, this may work to your advantage. It gives you an opportunity to reduce the amount of the judgment that he may get against you.  It also can lead to the dismissal of the eviction itself, if you have substantial claims of your own.

Breaking a Lease

What is a lease?

If you rent a room, apartment, or house, then you have a lease, even if there is nothing in writing. Any agreement to rent property, even if the only condition is how much rent to pay, is a lease.  Your lease may be a detailed written document or it may be a simple spoken arrangement between you and the landlord.  It may be month-to-month or it may be for a year or more.  It may have many clauses or it may spell out very little.  A lease is a set of obligations on both parties; the landlord’s basic obligation is to provide a rental unit that is habitable, while the tenant’s obligation is to pay rent.  When most people refer to a “lease” they mean a written lease, commonly for a period of one year, so that is the type of lease we will discuss here.

Can I break my lease?

You are always able to break a lease; there is little a landlord can do to actually stop you from leaving before the full term specified in the lease.  You are violating no law by vacating early, but you are violating the terms of the contract between you and the landlord.  If you decide to leave, the question will be what damages or penalties under the lease you might be liable for if you leave without good reason.

What happens if I leave before my lease expires? 

When you signed your one-year lease, you made a contract to pay a full year’s rent, usually one month at a time.  You then had the right to pay the same rent for that whole year; in return, your landlord got the right to expect payment of the entire year’s rent, in monthly installments.  If you leave before you have paid all the rent for the year, and it is not because of anything the landlord did or did not do, you have breached the lease.  The landlord can then try to get you to pay all the rent for the rest of the year, even though you are no longer living there.

If your landlord demands payment or sues you for the remainder of the rent, there are two situations in which you might not owe this money.

If your landlord re-rents the apartment for the same rent, then he cannot hold you responsible for rent for the same period.  In other words, if he receives the same rent from another tenant by re-renting right away, then your breach of the lease did not cost him any money.  The landlord should try to re-rent the apartment, rather than simply leaving it vacant and suing you for the unpaid rent. If he is unable to re-rent, if the apartment is vacant for a time, or if he can only rent it for a lower amount, then you may be liable for all or part of the unpaid rent.

If your landlord has breached the lease first, then you may not be liable for the remainder of the rent.  This means that your landlord has failed in some significant way to keep his end of the bargain, such as by failing to make necessary repairs. If you leave for reasons of your own, no matter how reasonable they may seem to you, you can still be liable to pay the remainder of the rent.  If your landlord has failed to abide by the lease or has violated the law (such as by failing to follow state or local housing codes), then he has breached the lease, which may relieve you of your obligation to continue paying rent.

Caution: In order to justify releasing you from your lease obligations, the landlord’s breach must be substantial, and not merely some technical or trivial failure.

What is good cause for breaking my lease?

Usually, there will be no way to tell in advance whether you are legally justified in breaking your lease.  The best approach is to try to come to an agreement with your landlord; if your landlord agrees, then you have mutually terminated the lease, and you should have no further obligation to pay rent.  You should try to get any such agreement in writing.  If you do not have the landlord’s agreement in advance, then you are taking a risk by vacating.  You will have to wait to see if the apartment is re-rented, or to see how vigorously your landlord pursues you for unpaid rent.  Ultimately, if your landlord sues you, a judge will decide whether you were justified in breaking the lease.

How do I go about breaking my lease? 

First, you should always try to avoid leaving before your lease expires, unless you and your landlord agree.  Even if you feel completely justified, you will still face the risk of owing money and possibly a court judgment against you.  If the problem lies in something your landlord is doing or not doing, you should try to negotiate a solution.  If your apartment has code violations, see rent withholding.  If the reason for leaving is not your landlord’s fault, try to get your landlord to release you from the lease.  If you cannot and still need to vacate, give your landlord as much notice as possible, preferably in writing.  The more notice you give, the more time your landlord has to re-rent, which can help you avoid owing rent.  Offer to try to find another tenant to take your place.  Your landlord does not have to accept a tenant you bring him, but it will strengthen your position later if you have done everything possible to save the landlord from losing money.

Discovery in Landlord-Tenant Cases

[Note: the information below is intended for use in defending against an eviction; the same general principles apply in any civil case, but some of the rules and deadlines will be different if your case is not an eviction, check the court rules before you start.]

What is discovery?

Discovery is the process of exchanging information between the parties to a lawsuit.  Court rules require a party, if asked, to answer the other side’s questions before trial.  In a landlord-tenant case, this means finding out the information your landlord has and what he plans to use in the case against you.

Discovery can be informal, such as simply asking the landlord for a copy of your lease or for an accounting of your rent payments.  The problem with informal requests is that the court cannot force the landlord to answer if he does not cooperate.  If he does not respond, you will then have to begin formal discovery.

Formal discovery is the process of serving interrogatories (written questions), requests for documents, or even conducting depositions (sworn, recorded testimony taken before trial).  Your landlord must respond to these requests under oath; they are then admissible in court if you need them.  If the landlord does not answer, you can ask the court for a delay until you get a response and for help in forcing the landlord to answer.

Your landlord may also serve you with discovery requests.  If this happens, you must respond honestly, and sign your responses in front of a notary before sending them back to the landlord or his attorney.  The discovery process takes place between the parties and does not involve the court unless something goes wrong.  Discovery requests or copies of requests are not ordinarily sent to the court.

What information do I ask for?

You should ask any questions that might help you know what your landlord plans to use against you in court or that would help you prepare for the eviction hearing.  Your questions can be about anything having to do with your tenancy or with your relationship with your landlord.  You do not have to limit your questions to the eviction or to the reason stated on the notice to quit.  You may want to “go fishing,” particularly if you think your landlord is evicting you for a different reason than the reason on the notice to quit.  For example, if you think the landlord is evicting you in retaliation for reporting a health code violation, you can try to find out his real reasons through interrogatories.  You can ask questions that you might not be allowed to ask at the trial.

Common areas to question are:

  • details about the stated reason for the eviction;
  • month-by-month (or week-by-week) accounting of rent payments;
  • recent code enforcement inspections;
  • repairs made or not made by landlord;
  • names of witnesses, with addresses and phone numbers;
  • descriptions of the incidents each witness may testify about;
  • any complaints about you, from other tenants or anyone else;
  • names of other tenants who were recently evicted or who are about to be;
  • reasons for those other evictions;
  • unwritten deals you may have made with the landlord;
  • any efforts or arrangements you made to catch up on back rent;
  • efforts you made to change behavior that the landlord warned you about;
  • times that the landlord violated your rights (lockouts, utility shutoffs);
  • the eviction process itself, such as what papers were served and when.

You can also insist that your landlord provide copies of documents that are in his control, such as:

  • any documents that landlord intends to introduce at the hearing;
  • your entire tenant file;
  • your lease, including old leases;
  • any written agreements outside of the lease;
  • account books or ledgers recording your rent payments;
  • receipts for rental payments and security deposits;
  • written complaints about you from other tenants or any other source;
  • landlord’s records of other complaints that were not in writing;    
  • code inspection reports and letters from code officers (local or state);
  • correspondence from you to the landlord, such as requests for repairs;
  • if the apartment is subsidized, correspondence from the housing authority.

How do I start?

If you have enough time and think that your landlord will cooperate, you may want to simply ask, by mail or by phone, for the information and documents that you want.  If you get the information you need, then you have saved yourself some trouble.  Unfortunately, this method may not get you the information you need.  If this does not work, you will need to mail or deliver written interrogatories and requests for documents to your landlord.  If he has an attorney, you should serve your requests on the attorney; you will often get more cooperation from an attorney than from a landlord who does not understand his legal obligations. You do not need to file a copy with the court.  You should keep a copy of everything you send to the other side.

Although your interrogatories and your requests for documents are two different types of discovery, you can combine them in one document.  Your opponent must provide you with access to all of the documents you request.  Copies are often provided without charge, although your opponent may want you to pay if you ask for an unreasonable number of copies.  As noted above, you can also arrange for depositions, which allow you to ask your landlord questions which he must answer under oath.  Because depositions take time to schedule and involve paying for both a stenographer’s time and a typed transcript, they are generally impractical for defendants in a landlord-tenant case.

When do I file?

The court rules require you to serve your discovery requests no later than 5 days after the return date.  The return date is the date on your landlord-tenant writ (in the first paragraph) that tells you when you have to file your appearance.  After this date, you can still ask for information and even serve interrogatories, but your landlord is not required to answer.  In order to make the best use of the information that you get, it is usually best to serve discovery as soon as possible, rather than wait until the deadline.

Your landlord then has 14 days to respond to your discovery requests.  He can answer sooner, but he can also take the full 14 days if he wishes. 

Note:  When you were served with the landlord-tenant writ, you should also have received a copy of the court’s discovery rules.  These rules will help you understand the process and to be sure that you have met all deadlines.  If you did not receive a copy, you can get one from the district court.

What if my landlord doesn’t cooperate?

RSA 540:13,IV now gives you the right to this information in landlord-tenant cases, which means that your landlord must respond, and can be forced by the court to do so.  If your landlord has not answered your requests by the day before the hearing and the 14 days has not yet expired, you can ask the court to postpone the hearing to give the landlord time to respond.  You can also make this motion orally on the day of your hearing, if necessary.

If the 14 days has expired and the hearing has not yet been held, you can ask the court to order a response.  The judge has several ways to penalize a party for not answering discovery requests –  including dismissal of the landlord’s case, although that would be unusual  – but usually a direct order from the court will produce a response from the landlord.

If the 14 days is up and the hearing is held, at the beginning of the hearing you can ask that the landlord be required to answer and that the hearing be delayed until he does so.

Your opponent may not answer all your questions or produce all the requested documents.  There are a few types of information that he is not required to provide, and the court will decide whether he must answer a particular question.  If he has objected to one of your questions, you can ask the court to rule on the objection and to order the landlord to respond.  If the landlord refuses without good reason to answer a particular question, you should ask the court, at trial, to require an answer or to bar any evidence favorable to the landlord on that subject.

Your opponent may try to supply answers to your requests on the day of the hearing or even at the courthouse, just before the hearing.  Unless the answers are very routine or simply confirmation of things you already knew, an answer at this late date is probably not useful to you.  Although your opponent and even the judge may try to persuade you to go forward with the hearing, you should insist on your right to the information you have requested.  You should get it with enough time to go over it and to use it effectively in preparing for the hearing, so ask the court for a continuance if you need it.  Of course, if the judge does not allow a continuance, you must go forward with the hearing as best you can.  If necessary, you can ask that the court give you a few minutes or an hour to go over the responses.

How do I use this information?

The best use of this information is in getting ready for the hearing.  Study the answers and the documents carefully, and combine them with what you already know. You are always better off  in court if you know what the other side plans to do and if you have prepared what you plan to say.  Knowing as much as you can about your landlord’s reasons for evicting you will help you prepare.  Knowing as much as you can about his evidence will help you decide what evidence or witnesses you should bring to the hearing.  Also, his responses to your questions may give you clues about things your landlord may not want brought out in court.  If you think there are other, unstated reasons for the eviction, you may find something that will help you prove your case.

Bring the responses with you to court.  People sometimes contradict themselves when they get on the witness stand, and if your landlord changes his story, that can hurt his case and help yours.  At the trial, if your landlord says something significantly different from his interrogatory response, you can ask him to read his original answer and then submit the interrogatory as evidence.  You can ask the court to either accept his earlier response as the truth or to use it as evidence that the landlord is not believable.

Final words

You can use the discovery process to know what’s in store for you at your eviction hearing, to be better prepared, and to make it more possible to tell your side of the story.  Do not use this process simply for delay or to harass your opponent.  Do not wait until the last minute; the more you prepare ahead of time, the better your chances will be.  Feel free to call LARC if you have questions at our toll-free number 1-800-639-5290.

Rent Increases

Leases

Most tenants in New Hampshire do not have written leases.  For these tenants, the landlord can request a rent increase at any time.  There is also no law limiting the amount of the increase that the landlord can request.  The best way to protect yourself from rent increases is to have a written lease which fixes the amount of the rent for a specific period of time (usually one year). Most of the following information on rent increases does not apply to you if you have a written lease.

Usually, if you have a lease the landlord cannot raise your rent before the lease runs out.  However, some leases have “escalator clauses” which allow landlords to raise the rent before the end of the lease for specific reasons such as an increase in property taxes or utility costs.  Try to avoid signing a lease with an escalator clause when you move in; once you sign you are bound by the lease.  If you do sign a lease with an escalator clause, makesure that you are only being charged for your share of the increase in taxes or utility costs.

 Notice

If you do not have a lease, your landlord must give you 30 days’ notice of the proposed rent increase in writing.  In a manufactured housing park the landlord must give you 60 days’ advance written notice, which must include an explanation for the increase.  If you refuse to pay a rent increase the landlord can begin an eviction action, but he must serve you with a 30-day notice to quit.

If the rent increase was not valid – either it was not in writing or it gave you less than 30 days – then you cannot be forced to pay it, nor can you be evicted for not paying it.  Your landlord may have the legal authority to raise your rent, but he cannot require you to pay it until he has given the notice that the law requires.

The reason for the 30-day requirement is to give the tenant time to decide whether to pay the rent increase or move.  By proposing a rent increase, the landlord is offering a new rental agreement, which the tenant has the right to accept or decline.  If you decide not to pay it, you have 30 days to make other arrangements.

The requirement of a 30-day notice can also apply to other substantial changes in your rental agreement. For example, your landlord may want to stop paying for utilities that were originally included or may want to stop letting you use the basement for storage -- those are actually rent increases, since you will now be receiving less, for the same amount of rent.

If you are a participant in the federal “Section 8” housing program the Housing Authority may be responsible for paying some or all of the rent increase.  Any proposed rent increase must be approved by the housing authority.  Make sure that you tell the housing authority of the proposed increase and discuss with them who is responsible for paying it.

Eviction

If the reason for the eviction is solely that you refused to pay a rent increase you should receive a 30-day notice for “other good cause: refusal to agree to a rent increase.”  If your landlord makes the mistake of trying to evict with a notice of less than 30 days, you can ask the court to dismiss the eviction.  If your landlord gives you a valid 30-day rent increase notice which you do not pay you will not have the right to cure by paying the increased amount after the landlord issues the 30-day notice to quit.

There is no New Hampshire statute limiting how much a landlord can raise the rent.  If, however, your landlord tries to raise your rent by an unreasonable amount, there is a legal argument that such an increase is not enforceable by a court.  To convince a court that an increase is so large that it is unconscionable (unreasonable) is very difficult; consult an attorney before trying to take this position in court.

This information is based on the law in effect at the time the information is generated and is not a warranty at times thereafter.

Category: 
Date: 
Revised by SDM September 2012 and updated April 2013
Author: 
Legal Advice & Referral Center

Did you find what you need?

Please help us help you. Take our quick survey.

Apply for Legal Services

Click here to apply for free legal services, or call us on: 1 (800) 639-5290. Foreclosure Relief Project 1 (877) 399-9995

Don't know where to start?