Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of New Hampshire and understand their responsibilities.
Quick Facts for New Hampshire
- Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent, violation of rental agreement & illegal behaviors; failure to prepare property for remediation of infestation with proper notice; “other good cause”
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 7-Day Notice to Pay Rent
- Notice Required to Terminate without Cause: 30-Day Notice for tenants at will
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 30-Day Notice to Quit; landlords are not required to give tenants a chance to remedy
- Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: 7 days (via termination notice for nonpayment of pay rent)
- Duration for Tenant to Appeal Eviction Ruling: Within 7 days from ruling
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant?
In the state of New Hampshire, an eviction is a multi-step legal process. As such, the length of time required to evict a tenant is difficult to pinpoint. The eviction process in New Hampshire begins with the landlord providing a written Notice to the tenant. The amount of time the tenant has to leave the rental property will depend upon the reasons for which the landlord is seeking to evict the tenant. Notices may be for seven days or thirty days.
Once the notice has expired, the landlord may file a Summons and Complaint with the court. When the eviction process moves into the legal system, it becomes subject to all of the issues inherent in the legal system. Even if the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant has the right to appeal the court’s decision.
The eviction process may prove to be both a time consuming and expensive process. Ultimately, the best predictor of the length of time it will take to evict a tenant is the tenant’s willingness to fight the process.
Reasons for Eviction
In the state of New Hampshire, there are several reasons a landlord may legitimately seek to evict a tenant. These reasons include the tenant(s):
- Failing to pay rent
- Causing or allowing family members or guests to cause substantial damage to the rental property
- Violating terms of the lease
- Behaving in ways, or allowing guests or household members to behave in ways that have a negative impact on the health and safety of other tenants or the landlord
- “Other good cause”
- A lead exposure problem on the rental property
- Failing to prepare the property for remediation of an infestation despite being given appropriate written notice.
When seeking to evict a tenant for “other good cause,” the landlord must provide the tenant with a written warning that his/her actions or inaction could lead to eviction in the future if the cause is an action or inaction of the tenants. If the same issue occurs after such a warning has been provided, the landlord may continue with the eviction process.
There are times when the landlord may seek to evict the tenant due to issues unrelated to the tenant or his/her actions. In these cases, the landlord is not required to issue a warning.
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
In the state of New Hampshire, a landlord is required to provide a tenant with a written 7-Day Notice to Pay or Quit when rent isn’t paid in a timely fashion before proceeding with the eviction process (N.H.R.S.A. 540:2-5). If the tenant fails to pay the rent or move from the property within the seven days allowed, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.
Eviction if Rent has Been Paid
In the state of New Hampshire, a landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant (a tenant who is renting without the benefit of a written lease) without cause. However, the landlord must provide the tenant with written notice before he/she can proceed with the eviction process unless the rental arrangement is for a fixed-term. When renting property for a set term, the landlord may not evict the tenant without cause until the term of the rental agreement is complete. Once the fixed term is complete, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant with written notice, but may proceed with the eviction process.
If a landlord is interested in evicting an “at-will” tenant who pays rent on a monthly basis, he/she must provide the tenant with a written 30-Day Notice to Quit unless there is a cause to evict the tenant. If the “at-will” month-to-month tenant remains on the property beyond the 30 days indicated, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.
Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease
In the state of New Hampshire, a landlord is not required to provide the tenant with an opportunity to correct the issue when the lease or rental agreement has been violated. The landlord is required to provide a written 30-Day Notice to Quit (N.H.R.S.A. 540-2(II)(c) & 540-3). If the tenant fails to move within the 30 days provided in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
Although the state of New Hampshire has not established illegal activity as a separate legitimate reason for evicting a tenant, tenants will find that their lease contains information of how illegal behavior will be dealt with, and the state allows the landlord to serve the tenant with a 7-Day Unconditional Notice to Quit when serious damage has been caused to the property (N.H.R.S.A. 540:2(II) & 540:3). This notice may also be used when a tenant presents harm to other tenants or the landlord. If the tenant remains on the rental property beyond the time indicated in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.
How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is No Lease?
When a tenant is renting without the benefit of a written lease, he/she is considered an “at-will” tenant. Such tenants may be evicted in the state of New Hampshire without cause.
If the tenant is renting a property for a fixed-term, the landlord must wait until this term has ended before he/she can expect the tenant to vacate the property. Once the term has ended, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.
When the property is being rented for a fixed-term, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant with a written notice.
If the “at-will” tenant is renting month-to-month, the landlord is required to provide him/her with a written 30-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant fails to move within the thirty days provided, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.
When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted?
A landlord cannot evict a tenant for reporting housing or building code violations to the appropriate agencies. It is also illegal for a landlord to attempt to evict a tenant for organizing or participating in a tenant’s group or union or for filing a complaint with the court asking the landlord to discontinues certain practices. As in all states, it is illegal in the state of New Hampshire, for a landlord to seek to evict a tenant on the basis or his/her race, religion, sex, age, nation of origin, familial status, or disability status.
Once a Notice Has Expired
The landlord may file a Summons and Complaint with the court. A Writ of Summons will be issued informing the tenant of his/her rights and outlining the process for contesting eviction actions. If the tenant wishes to fight the eviction, he/she has 7 days to file an appearance in the district court. The tenant may also file a counterclaim.
If the tenant fails to respond to the court, the judge may issue a default ruling in favor of the landlord.
Once Eviction Occurs
If the court rules in favor of the landlord, a >Writ of Possession will be issued. This writ allows the sheriff to remove the tenant from the property. Either property has the ability to appeal the court’s decision.
Make sure to read through RSA 540-A before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.