New Hampshire Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

New Hampshire Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Last Updated: January 26, 2024 by Phil Ahn

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions Unpaid rent, late fees and utilities

Unpaid real estate taxes

Costs of damage

Charges outlined in lease

Return Deadline 30 days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 2x Amount Due

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in New Hampshire, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, the following can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent, late fees, and utilities
  • Unpaid real estate taxes outlined in the lease agreement
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Other charges outlined in the lease agreement

Most states, such as New Hampshire, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear and Tear in New Hampshire?

“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in New Hampshire?

Landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.


A carpet that is slightly discolored or gently worn will be considered normal wear and tear. A carpet with visible stains, major discoloration and rips will be considered excessively damaged.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in New Hampshire?

Landlords in New Hampshire can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of normal enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures.

However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire law allows landlords to make deductions from the security deposit for cleaning, limited to bringing the rental unit back to its original condition at the start of the lease term.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in New Hampshire?

In New Hampshire, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes:

  • Minor scrapes from daily use
  • Fading due to sunlight
  • Minor cracks in the original paint

Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Security Deposit Returns in New Hampshire

Landlords in New Hampshire must return a security deposit with interest (if due) with a written statement of deductions (if any) to the tenant’s forwarding address no later than 30 days after the lease term ends.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire landlords have 30 days after the lease term ends to return any unused portion of the security deposit.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in New Hampshire?

Tenants are entitled to earn interest if their security deposit is held longer than one yearequal to the standard interest rate for a savings account at the financial institution where it is being held. Any interest due should be returned to the tenant along with their security deposit.

How Do Landlords Give Notice in New Hampshire?

Written notice must be delivered to the tenant’s forwarding address and must include the amount of the security deposit and interest due, if any, to the tenant, plus an itemized statement of deductions.

The itemized statement of deductions should specify any repairs necessary and include evidence of the associated costs, like receipts, bills, or invoices.

However, if a tenant does not provide a forwarding address within a reasonable time after the lease term ends, the landlord is not responsible for returning the security deposit.

If the tenant has not provided an address within 6 months after the lease term ends, the security deposit and interest become the property of the landlord.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Disputes in New Hampshire

If landlords do not return the security deposit within the 30-day period, tenants can file for damages in court up to twice the amount wrongfully withheld.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Failure to provide an itemized statement when deductions are made
  • Unreasonable deductions

Special Damages. The following actions by a landlord violate the Consumer Protection Act and have special penalties:

  • Requiring more than one month’s rent as a security deposit
  • Failing to transfer the security deposit when the property is sold
  • Failing to properly hold the security deposit

In these situations, tenants can sue for actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater, plus court costs and attorneys’ fees. If the tenant can prove the act was willful, the judge may award up to three times the amount of damages.

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in New Hampshire?

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in Small Claims Court if the amount of damages is less than $10,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a regular civil case in the local Circuit Court.

A small claims case must be filed within 3 years and an attorney is not required but permitted. Cases are filed in the Small Claims Court where the plaintiff or defendant lives. Filing fees are $90 or $145 depending on the amount claimed.