Under New Mexico law, if a written or oral rental agreement exists, or if payment is accepted as rent, landlords and tenants have automatic rights and responsibilities under New Mexico Statutes Chapter 47, such as the right to timely rent payments and a livable dwelling.
Note: These rights exist regardless of what the rental agreement says.
Landlord Responsibilities in New Mexico
In New Mexico, landlords legally can’t rent property out unless it meets basic health and safety requirements. Here is a list of amenities and how they relate to New Mexico’s habitability requirements:
|Has to Provide?
|Has to Fix/Replace?
|Only If Provided
|Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors
If a property doesn’t provide the legally required amenities for habitable housing, a tenant can usually report the landlord to government authorities for unsafe living conditions.
Renter’s Rights for Repairs in New Mexico
Landlords must perform necessary repairs in a timely manner. In New Mexico, landlords must make repairs within seven days after getting written notice from tenants.
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, New Mexico tenants can cancel the rental agreement, or abate (partially withhold) the rent by following a special process. In either case, they can also sue for costs, or a court order to force the landlord to make repairs.
Tenant Responsibilities in New Mexico
Aside from paying rent on time, New Mexico tenants must:
- Keep the unit clean and in habitable condition.
- Comply with all building and housing codes.
- Dispose of all waste.
- Perform minor repairs or maintenance.
- Keep plumbing fixtures clean.
- Use all facilities and appliance properly.
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors.
- Not negligently or deliberately destroy or damage any part of the rental unit.
Evictions in New Mexico
New Mexico landlords may evict tenants for the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of Rent: If a tenant fails to pay rent, then the landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Pay. If the tenant still does not pay, then the landlord may file a Summons and Complaint suit.
- Lease Violation: If a lease violation occurs, then the landlord may issue a 7-Day Notice to Cure or Quit. If the tenant does not fix their behavior or evict the premises, then the landlord may file for eviction. If the tenant commits the same violation within 6 months, the landlord can issue an unconditional 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- No Lease/End of Lease: If a tenant stays in the rental unit beyond their lease agreement period, a landlord may issue a Notice to Quit. The amount of time depends on the type of tenancy.
- Week-to-Week: 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- Month-to-Month: 30-Day Notice to Quit.
- Year-to-Year: 6-month Notice to Quit.
- Material Health/Safety Violation: If a tenant violates a health, building, safety or housing code, the landlord may issue a 7-Day Notice to Comply, if the tenant does not correct the violation, then the landlord may proceed with the eviction.
- Illegal Acts: If a landlord has documentation of illegal activity on the property, then they may file a 3-Day Notice to Quit. Illegal actions that warrant eviction include possessing or distributing illegal drugs, committing assault or theft, sexual abuse, or causing more than $1,000 in property damage.
At-will tenants are entitled to receive either 30 days’ notice or 7 days’ notice if they pay on a month-to-month or week-to-week basis. New Mexico landlords are also prohibited from evicting tenants in retaliation or for discriminatory reasons.
Landlord Retaliation in New Mexico
It’s illegal for New Mexico landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against tenants who have taken a protected action like reporting a landlord to government authorities for health and safety violations.
Security Deposits in New Mexico
Collections & Holdings: The following laws apply to the collection and holding of security deposits:
- Maximum: 1 month’s rent if the lease term is shorter than 1 year. If the lease term is 1 year or longer, there is no limit as long as it is reasonable.
- Exception(s): The maximums are different for mobile homes.
- Inventory Requirement: Landlords are not required to document the condition of the rental unit when tenants move in.
- Interest Requirement: Only if the deposit exceeds 1 month’s rent.
Returns & Deductions: The following laws apply to the return of security deposits:
- Allowable Deductions: Unpaid rent, utilities, late fees, physical damage excluding normal wear and tear, costs due to a breach of the lease agreement, and cleaning costs.
- Time Limit for Return: 30 days.
- Max. Penalty for Late Return: Tenants can sue for the full security deposit plus $250, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.
Lease Termination in New Mexico
Notice Requirements: If a tenant on a periodic lease wants to break that lease, they must give the following amount of advance notice:
|Rent Payment Frequency
Early Termination: Tenants in New Mexico are legally allowed to break a lease for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause.
- Active military duty.
- Unit is uninhabitable.
- Landlord harassment.
Cost of Breaking a Lease in New Mexico
If a New Mexico tenant breaks their lease early, they are still liable for the rent for the remaining lease period. Landlords are legally required to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit, and if they find a new tenant, the original tenant is then no longer liable to pay all remaining rent.
Landlords cannot keep the full security deposit because a tenant broke their lease. The landlord can make deductions for damages or unpaid rent, but the rest must be returned to the tenant.
Rent Increases in New Mexico
New Mexico does not have rent control and state law prohibits cities and towns from creating their own rent control laws.
Because New Mexico does not have rent control, landlords can raise the rent by any amount, as often as they choose, but they cannot increase the rent during the lease term unless the lease agreement allows for it. Additionally, landlords cannot increase the rent out of discrimination of state or federally-protected classes or in retaliation.
Before increasing the rent, landlords must give 30 days’ notice to month-to-month and other fixed-term (e.g., year lease) tenants and 7 days’ notice to week-to-week tenants.
Housing Discrimination in New Mexico
Protected Groups: The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, religion, or disability. These rules do not extend to some owner-occupied homes or homes owned by religious organizations. New Mexico state law adds protections based on ancestry or spousal affiliation.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties: There does not seem to be one single agency that handles discrimination in housing issues. However, state-published resources have highlighted the following acts as potentially discriminatory when directed at a member or a protected group:
- Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer.
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges.
- Falsely claiming a unit is unavailable.
- Publishing advertisements that imply a preference for one group over others.
- Steering renters into certain neighborhoods.
- Denying certain financial services.
- Encouraging buying/selling behavior of the grounds of neighborhood “demographic change.”
- Failing to provide reasonable accommodations.
Tenants who experience discrimination in housing may file a complaint with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. If the complaint is found to be justified, the tenant may use the findings as the basis of a civil suit.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in New Mexico
In addition to having laws that address general issues like repairs and security deposits, most states, including New Mexico, grant rights and responsibilities about things like lock changes and a landlord’s right to entry. See the topics below for more information.
Landlord Right to Entry in New Mexico
Landlords in New Mexico have the right to enter a rental property for purposes related to inspections, maintenance, and property showings. Unless a different amount of notice is specified in the rental agreement, they must give at least 24 hours of advance notice before any entry, except in emergencies.
Rent Collection & Related Fees in New Mexico
The following laws apply to the collection of rent and related fees:
- Grace Period: Landlords are not required to provide a grace period for the payment of rent before charging a late fee.
- Maximum Late Fee: 10% of the periodic rent payment.
- Rent Payment Methods: There is no state law governing which payment methods landlords may or may not accept for the payment of rent.
- Rent Receipt: Not required.
Small Claims Court in New Mexico
Most disputes between landlords and tenants are handled in Small Claims Court, which is an informal process designed to be quicker and simpler than higher courts. For example, disputes regarding the return of security deposits are typically handled in Small Claims Court.
Landlords and tenants can file cases in Small Claims Court to settle minor disputes without hiring an attorney if the amount claimed is less than $10,000. New Mexico Small Claims Court is a division of Magistrate Court except in Bernalillo County where small claims are filed in Metropolitan Court. The process takes approximately two to three months.
Mandatory Disclosures in New Mexico
New Mexico landlords must make the following mandatory disclosures:
- Lead-Based Paint: Landlords who own homes built after 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint.
- Authorized Agents: Landlords must also provide all the names and addresses of parties involved in owning and managing the property.
- Late Fees: Any late fees shall be disclosed in the lease agreement or they may not be enforceable.
Changing the Locks in New Mexico
New Mexico law does not regulate a tenant changing locks, so it’s allowed unless the terms of the rental agreement say otherwise. Landlords can’t unilaterally change locks on their tenants, as this is considered a form of illegal “self help” eviction.
Local Laws in New Mexico
Many cities in New Mexico have their own landlord-tenant laws in addition to the state requirements. Check your local county and municipality for additional regulations.
Albuquerque Landlord Tenant Rights
The City of Albuquerque has several ordinances that make tenants more responsible for keeping their units clean. The city’s housing code also requires landlords to make sure doors and windows are reasonably watertight. More information about the city’s housing code can be found here.