New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Laws
The state of New Hampshire has strong protections for renters, and the laws are very detailed and specific. It is very important for both landlords and tenants to be familiar with state and local statutes before entering into any rental agreement.
The wording of New Hampshire law, which stipulates that landlords must show “good cause” to evict a tenant, virtually ensures that landlords will have to take tenants to court if they fall behind on their rent. These cases are heard in circuit court, and the courts generally try to work out reasonable payment arrangements as long as the tenant is willing and able to pay. The good news for landlords is that these cases take little time to hear, sometimes as little as a few minutes.
While the information below comes directly from state statutes and is accurate at the time of this writing, it should be noted that this is not meant to be legal advice. A qualified lawyer should be contacted with any legal questions or concerns.
What Laws Cover Landlord-Tenant Relationships in New Hampshire?
Rules that govern leases in New Hampshire are largely covered by N.H. Rev. Stat. 540 and Rev. Stat. 508. There are also some special laws for manufactured housing parks that are addressed under Rev. Stat. 205-A.
New Hampshire additionally makes a distinction between “restricted” and “unrestricted” rental properties. Business or non-residential property is always classified as unrestricted. Residential property can also be unrestricted if it is a single-family home owned by someone who does not own more than three such units, a rental unit in a building that has no more than four such units, or a single-family home acquired by a bank through foreclosure. All other residential property is considered restricted. These definitions can be found in Rev. Stat. 540-A:1.
Security Deposit Rules
New Hampshire has strong law governing security deposits, but it only applies to landlords who own and rent out more than one single-family residence, or who rent out residential units in a building that has at least five such units. Tenants in a multi-unit residential building who are age 60 or older have special status as spelled out in Rev. Stat. 540-A:5.
Where applicable, the maximum a landlord can ask for a security deposit is the equivalent of one month’s rent. Interest must only be paid if the deposit is held for longer than a year. The rate of interest paid must be equivalent to a savings account at a state bank. The interest is to be paid once every three years, no later than 30 days before the expiration of the current rental agreement.
Landlords may mingle all their deposits in a bank account, but it cannot be an account that they have personal funds in, and if they do this they are required to pay proportional interest to each tenant who has monies in that particular account. Landlords must provide the name of the bank, account number and interest rate upon request. Landlords are also required to issue a receipt for any security deposits if they are not paid with a check. More details can be seen in Rev. Stat. 540-A:6.
Landlords are required to provide written notice of any items in the unit that are in need of repair within five days of the tenant moving in. When the tenant moves out, the landlord must provide an itemized list of damages if they intend to retain part or all of the security deposit. Deposit monies can only be withheld for unpaid rent, payment of any real estate taxes the tenant is liable for, and damages caused by the tenant. Otherwise, the security deposit must be returned within 30 days of the end of the lease, under Rev. Stat. 540-A:7.
There are no statutes regarding pet deposits or non-refundable fees.
Landlords who retain a security deposit in bad faith can be held liable for twice the amount of the deposit and any interest due. The tenant is required to disclose their new mailing address to the landlord, however, and if they do not make contact within six months the landlord is entitled to retain the deposit and interest under Rev. Stat. 540-A:8.
Lease, Rent and Fee Rules
There are no statutes governing late fees, application fees, a grace period for rent payments, prepaid rent, or abandonment of the lease by the tenant.
Landlords must give tenants 30 days notice of a rent increase, under Rev. Stat. 540:2. For returned checks, they may collect all associated costs plus the amount of the check, and if these are not paid within 14 days it can be considered a felony under state law. Landlords are allowed to recover fees from court cases that they win. There are no statutes for tenants to repair and deduct from rent or withhold rent for failure to provide services, but tenants can legally block an eviction if they can show they have given notice of habitability issues and the landlord failed to address these issues within 14 days, under Rev. Stat. 540:13.
Notice and Entry Rules
Rev. Stat. 540:3 establishes that 30 days notice is needed for a tenant to terminate most leases. This is also the required term for a landlord to terminate a lease due to a violation. A landlord may end a lease for nonpayment with seven days notice, but the tenant may make payment during that time to reinstate the lease. Landlords also cannot initiate this more than three times in a 12-month period. There are no statutes addressing termination of tenancy with only 24 hours notice.
Notice for entry by landlords is generally allowed with a time period that is adequate for the circumstances. There are no statutes on entry during an extended absence, for pesticide use or for scheduling a move-out inspection.
Lockouts and utility shutoffs are never allowed under New Hampshire law. Landlords who engage in a “self-help” eviction can be held liable for the greater of $1000 or three times the actual damages, and this amount is tripled if it can be demonstrated that the landlord knowingly violated the law. This is covered by Rev. Stat. 358-A:10.
Required Disclosures and Notes
Rev. Stat. 48-A:14 makes clear the conditions under which a dwelling can be considered habitable. Landlords may not lease a unit if it violates any of these terms. Both tenants and landlords must respect the quiet enjoyment rights of everyone living on the premises.
There are some special protections for those who have experienced domestic violence under Rev. Stat. 540-2:VII. Landlords may request proof of this status. Once established, the tenant cannot have their lease terminated unless they fail to pay rent, and the landlord must replace their locks upon request at the tenant’s expense.
Landlords cannot retaliate under New Hampshire law, though these regulations do not apply if the tenant is overdue on a week or more of their rent. If a tenant quits the property, the landlord is required to store and maintain their property for seven days. The tenant can recover their property at no cost during this period. The landlord may dispose of the property if the tenant does not claim it within seven days.
Small Claims Court
The small claims court limit in New Hampshire is $7,500. Eviction cases are heard in circuit court. Both oral and written contracts have a statute of limitations of three years.