A Question/Answer Walk Through the Foreclosure and Post-Foreclosure Eviction Process
“Do I have to move out of the house on the day of the foreclosure?”
NO: You cannot legally be put out of the house on the day of the foreclosure.
“What happens on the day of the foreclosure?”
The lender will send an auctioneer to your home and that person will conduct an auction of the home.
They generally will stand out at the edge of the property and they sometimes place a sign there to
attempt to bring more bidders to the property. You don’t have to let them onto the property, and you
don’t have to let them into your house.
If there are people interested in buying the property, they come to the auction and make bids on the
If the lender hears a bid that he or she knows is satisfactory to the lender, the bid will be accepted.
If there is no satisfactory bid, then the lender will make the highest bid and will buy the property.
Whoever becomes the new owner cannot put you out of the house that day.
“The Foreclosure Sale is Complete; What happens Next?”
Usually the new owner would like you move out of the property timely and to leave the property clean
At this time there are a number of different things that can happen. If the bank purchased your house at
the auction then they might offer you money to leave the house clean and undamaged and in a timely
manner. This is sometimes called cash for keys. This is recommended if you have already found a new
place to move into and you are satisfied with the amount of money they are offering to you.
Another option is for you to stay in the property for as long as you are legally allowed.
At this time the new owner is treated as your landlord and they must comply with landlord tenant laws
as they pertain to a person whose home was foreclosed upon. At this point you need to be fully
informed about all the different ways to manage this process.
Be sure you read all the information below this section, but the worst case scenario is that it could be
about 45-60 days after the foreclosure that a new owner lawfully could put you out of the house.
“When do I have to leave?”
The new owner tells you that you have to get out. You think that you’ve just been “evicted.” But when
does the law really require you to leave?
So how does a landlord begin the lawful eviction process in New Hampshire? What are the steps?
Let's Take a Walk....
Let’s take a walk through all the steps in New Hampshire’s lawful eviction process. By the end of this
walk, you’ll be more familiar with this process. And you’ll have a better idea as to how long it takes.
Step 1 The Written Eviction Notice
Step 2 The Landlord & Tenant Writ
Step 3 The Appearance Form
Step 4 The Notice of Hearing
Step 5 Raising Defenses at the Hearing
Step 6 The Writ of Possession
Step 7 Asking for a Discretionary Stay
Step 8 Filing a Notice of Intent to Appeal
What if the Landlord Doesn’t Follow the Required Steps?
STEP 1 The Written Eviction Notice
Your landlord begins the lawful eviction process by serving you with a written notice that tells you to
leave (An offer to pay you money for you to be out within 30 days will not constitute a lawful eviction
Tenant question: What if my landlord just tells me, face-to-face or over the phone, to leave?
LARC answer: A verbal order to leave from your landlord doesn’t count. The notice must be in writing.
Tenant question: Is a sheriff the only person allowed to serve an eviction notice?
LARC answer: No. Your landlord can have anyone serve the eviction notice. A sheriff, a property
manager, an attorney, the landlord’s spouse, or the landlord can hand it to you or leave it on or near
Tenant question: Is my landlord required to use a certain legal form for the eviction notice?
LARC answer: No. A written eviction notice may be an official looking notice like the one the court
makes available to landlords. Or, it may be scribbled on a piece of notebook paper. The point is, it must
be in writing.
Tenant question: But my eviction notice has scary legal language on it. It says: “Pursuant to the
provisions of RSA 540:2, you are hereby given notice to quit, on or before [date ].” Is this the end?
LARC answer: No. You are NOT required to leave, or quit, on the expiration date of your eviction notice.
Of course, this is what your landlord wants. That’s why the landlord has given you “notice to quit.” But
your landlord is not a judge. Your landlord has to get a judge’s permission before you must leave.
Official looking or unofficial looking. Clear reason or unclear reason. Legal language or everyday
language. What matters is, you the tenant are being told in writing to leave your home. This is the
eviction notice. This is NOT the end of the process. This is just step #1 in the process. The landlord must
take more steps before you might have to leave your home.
STEP 2 The Landlord & Tenant Writ
You cannot be lawfully evicted unless the landlord brings the matter to court after the eviction notice
Tenant question: Why does my landlord have to drag this eviction….and me…into court?
LARC answer: Because the landlord can’t lawfully evict you unless the landlord gets permission from a
judge. And court is where judges listen to these evictions.
Tenant question: Exactly how does my landlord bring this eviction into court?
LARC answer: Your landlord brings the matter into court by filing a summons. It’s called the landlord &
tenant writ. The writ will look official because it IS official.
Tenant question: Can anyone serve me with the landlord & tenant writ?
LARC answer: No. After your landlord fills out the landlord & tenant writ at the court, the writ must then
be brought to the county sheriff’s office. A sheriff will then come to your home and hand the landlord &
tenant writ to you or leave it on or near your door.
STEP 3 The Appearance Form
There is a lot of important information on the landlord & tenant writ. Most important is the return day.
The return day is a date. You will see the return day about halfway down on the first page of the
landlord & tenant writ.
Tenant question: Is the return day my hearing date?
LARC answer: No. The return day is NOT your hearing date. It’s your deadline for telling the court you
want a hearing scheduled.
Tenant question: Exactly how do I tell the court to schedule a hearing for me?
LARC answer: You get your hearing scheduled by filing a simple, one page form called an appearance
form. You get the appearance form from the court clerk or complete it electronically. The appearance
form will take you 2 or 3 minutes to fill out. When you’re finished, mail it or hand it to the clerk. The
clerk will give 2 copies back to you. Keep one copy for your records. Mail the other to your landlord.
Tenant question: What if I don’t file my appearance by the return day?
LARC answer: You MUST file your appearance before the return day passes. If you don’t, you’ll be in
DEFAULT. Being found in default by the court means you could be removed from your home within just
a few days! Don’t let this happen to you!!
Tenant question: What if I reach an agreement with my landlord before the return day?
LARC answer: File your appearance anyway!!!
Tenant question: What if my landlord tells me not to worry about the return day?
LARC answer: File your appearance anyway!!!
Tenant question: What if…
LARC answer: File your appearance anyway!!! We at LARC can’t think of one good reason for not filing
the appearance by the return day. Filing an appearance keeps you involved in the case so you will
always have a chance to talk to the judge. In fact, we at LARC suggest you file your appearance as close
to the return day as possible. This will set the hearing out until the last possible day…about 6 to 10 days
from the day you file the appearance.
STEP 4 The Notice of Hearing
You’ve filed your appearance. Smart!
Tenant question: But how will I know exactly when the hearing takes place?
LARC answer: The court will use the mailing address you wrote on your appearance form to mail you a
notice of hearing. The notice of hearing typically arrives 2 to 3 days after the appearance is filed. It tells
you the day and time your hearing is schedule.
Tenant question: But I’m having problems getting my mail. What if I don’t get my notice of hearing in
LARC answer: If for some reason you don’t get your notice of hearing in the mail by the 3rd day, call the
court. Ask the clerk for the hearing date. Don’t take any chances! Eviction hearings are scheduled
quickly….6 to 10 days from the day you file the appearance. You don’t want to default by not showing
up for your hearing. To get information on a case in any court in New Hampshire, just call the New
Hampshire Judicial Branch’s toll-free phone number: 1-855-212-1234.
STEP 5 Raising Defenses at the Hearing
Your landlord will be there at the hearing. The landlord may also have an attorney present.
Tenant question: Do I have the right to speak up at the hearing?
LARC answer: Yes! You do have the right to speak up for yourself at the hearing. And you should! If you
don’t exercise your rights to speak against eviction, no one else at the hearing will do that for you.
Nothing is guaranteed for either a landlord or a tenant. You might be able to ask the judge to allow you
to stay in the house longer. Be prepared to pay rent to the new owner if the judge orders you to pay
while you stay. Contact LARC for assistance with preparing for the hearing. Our toll-free phone# is: 1-
800-639-5290. You may also apply online to receive a call back by one of our housing advocates.
STEP 6 The Writ of Possession:
Tenant question: What if I lose the eviction hearing? Will I have to leave my home the day of the
LARC answer: No! If you lose the eviction, you will not be required to leave your home the day of the
hearing. Losing the eviction means the writ of possession will issue to the landlord sometime in the
Tenant question: What is the writ of possession?
LARC answer: The writ of possession is the brass ring every landlord grabs for when a landlord brings a
tenant to eviction court. The writ of possession is the court order that allows a landlord to have a tenant
lawfully removed from the home.
Tenant question: If I lose the eviction, how soon can my landlord get the writ of possession?
LARC answer: The writ of possession is never given to your landlord any sooner than 8 days from the day
of the hearing. This is why LARC can tell you clearly that you are never required to leave your home on
the day you lose an eviction hearing.
Tenant question: If I lose the eviction, are you telling me I will be able to stay in my home for at least
another 8 days?
LARC answer: Yes. If everything goes against you at the hearing, you will be able to stay in your home for
at least 8 more days.
Tenant question: When my landlord finally gets the writ of possession, will my landlord come to my
door, hand it to me, and order me to leave?
LARC answer: No. The eviction process does not allow your landlord to serve the writ of possession on
you. Your landlord must bring the writ of possession to a sheriff. A sheriff is an officer of the court. A
sheriff carries out court orders. Only a sheriff can serve you with the writ of possession and order you
Tenant question: Exactly when am I legally required to leave?
LARC answer: The nitty gritty end of New Hampshire’s lawful eviction process is when a sheriff comes to
your door with the writ of possession and orders you out. You only have to leave when a sheriff orders
you to leave.
Tenant question: When can my landlord change the locks?
LARC answer: The landlord isn’t allowed to change the locks until after a sheriff has served and carried
out the writ of possession.
A Note About Your Personal Property:
Whether you have been locked out by a sheriff or you decide to voluntarily leave, your landlord must
take care of your personal property for 7 days after you’ve left. And your landlord must allow you to get
your personal property back during this 7 day period. Having trouble getting your personal property
back? Contact LARC. Our toll-free phone# is: 1-800-639-5290. You may also apply online to receive a
call back by one of our housing advocates.
STEP 7 Asking for a Discretionary Stay
Tenant question: What if the judge says at the hearing that my landlord won the eviction? I need more
than 8 days. Is there any way I can get more than 8 days?
LARC answer: Yes. If you lose, you can ask the judge for extra time in the home before the writ of
possession is carried out. It’s called a DISCRETIONARY STAY.
Tenant question: What if the judge doesn’t say who won right there in the courtroom? Can I play it safe
and still ask for a discretionary stay?
LARC answer: Yes. Maybe the judge will say the decision will come later in the mail, so you won’t know
where you stand. If you need extra time, you can play it safe and still ask for a discretionary stay before
the hearing ends.
Tenant question: How much extra time can I get with a discretionary stay?
LARC answer: A judge can grant you up to a maximum of 90 more days in the home, even though you
lost the eviction hearing. You’ll be responsible for paying rent to your landlord during any discretionary
stay granted by the judge.
Tenant question: Is a discretionary stay a defense?
LARC answer: No. Your request for a discretionary stay isn’t a defense. Instead, it’s you giving the judge
important reasons why you should have extra time in the home.
Tenant question: What’s a good example of a reason for needing more time?
LARC answer: One good reason would be if you or someone else in your home has disabilities that make
it tough to quickly find a new, suitable home. Another might be that you already have a new place, but it
won’t be ready for a month or so.
Tenant question: What are the chances that a judge will grant me a discretionary stay?
LARC answer: There’s no way to predict your chances. It’s called a discretionary stay because the judge
is allowed to use his or her discretion, or judgment, after listening to your reasons.
STEP 8 Filing a Notice of Intent to Appeal
You’ve raised a defense at the eviction hearing. But you lost. If you feel the judge didn’t apply the law
correctly in your case, you do have the right to appeal the judge’s decision.
Tenant question: How do I start an appeal?
LARC answer: The appeal process in eviction cases is a 2-step process. The first step requires you to file a
form at the court where you lost the eviction. This form is called the NOTICE OF INTENT TO APPEAL .
Tenant question: When do I file the notice of intent to appeal?
LARC answer: It must be filed no later than 7 days from the day you lost the eviction.
Tenant question: Will I need money when filing the notice of intent to appeal?
LARC answer: The Court may order you to pay rent while the appeal is pending. The court holds this
money for the new owner, or the court will tell you on your notice of decision how to pay the current
rent going forward during an appeal period.
Tenant question: Can I remain in the home if I file the notice of intent to appeal?
LARC answer: Yes. The notice of intent to appeal will keep the writ of possession at the court, and you in
your home, for 30 days from the day of the hearing as long as you continue to pay the current rent as
directed by the court, whether to the landlord or to the court itself.
Tenant question: What happens on the 30th day?
LARC Aaswer: The 30th day is your deadline for presenting your appeal to New Hampshire’s State
Supreme Court. This is the 2nd step in the 2-step appeal process. You must satisfy all of the Supreme
Court’s requirements before they will consider taking your appeal. Not all appeals are accepted. If the
Supreme Court doesn’t accept your appeal, the writ of possession becomes available right away to your
landlord. For more information on appeals, check out the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s website.
Tenant question: My landlord is not following the eviction steps you’ve described. What can I do to
make my landlord follow the law?
LARC answer: Your landlord may be in violation of a law known as 540-A. Your legal remedy may be a
Tenant question: How do I figure out if my landlord has violated 540-A or if I should file a petition?
LARC answer: Contact LARC. Our toll-free phone# is: 1-800-639-5290. You may also apply online to
receive a call back by one of our housing advocates. You can also read about Tenant’s Rights and NH RSA 540-A
Legal Advice & Referral Center