New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on New Hampshire landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Act.

NH Landlord Tenant Law:

  • New Hampshire Statutes Title LV, Chapter 540 - Actions Against Tenants

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, New Hampshire landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating someone as a renter because of his or her age, sexual orientation, or marital status (or change in marital status).  RSA 354-A:8

Landlords must follow the above Fair Housing laws except in the following situations:

1. Landlords renting out the only single family house they own. This exemption does not apply to landlords who own two or more single family houses.

2. Landlords renting out dwellings with three or less rental units and are occupied by the landlord or landlord's family member(s).  RSA 354-A:13

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

Required for Tenancy Agreement

New Hampshire landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to New Hampshire landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make the tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Act  RSA 540:28

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Security Deposit

The following New Hampshire security deposit laws do NOT apply to landlords who

  • rents out a single-family residence and owns no other rental property
  • rents out dwelling units in an owner-occupied building with five or less units (unless the unit is occupied by someone who is at least 60 years old)

According to New Hampshire landlord tenant law, the landlord can ask for up to one month's rent as security deposit.  RSA 540-A:6, I(a)

New Hampshire landlord tenant law does not contain statues regarding pet deposits and non-refundable fees.

Holding Security Deposit

New Hampshire landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in a trust account of a bank, savings and loan association or credit union. The landlord can hold security deposits from multiple tenants in one account, but the landlord still has to individually account for every tenant's deposit. This trust account cannot contain other types of funds.  RSA 540-A:6, II(a)

Whenever the landlord receives a security deposit, he or she has to give the tenant a receipt unless the tenant is paying by check.  RSA 540-A:6, I(c)

The landlord has to pay the tenant interest on any security deposit that is held for one year or longer. This interest paid shall be equal to the interest rate of the trust account holding the deposit.

If the tenant requests for it, the landlord has to provide the following information: bank (or savings association or credit union) holding the deposit, account number, deposit amount and deposit interest rate. In addition, the tenant is allowed to examine his or her security deposit records.  RSA 504-A:6, IV(b)

Deductions and Returns

New Hampshire landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
  
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions under New Hampshire landlord tenant law RSA 540-A:7, II include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Real estate tax hikes during tenancy (IF the tenant agreed to it in the lease agreement)

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 30 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.  RSA 540-A:7, I

If the landlord fails to follow New Hampshire landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover up to two times the security deposit amount plus any interest due (after deductions).

Six months after the tenancy has terminated, the landlord shall get to keep any deposit and interest that is unclaimed by the tenant.  RSA 540-A:8

Change of Property Owner

If the landlord transfers his or her ownership of the property to another person by sale, assignment, appointment or foreclosure, the landlord has to transfer all security deposits to the new owner within five days.  RSA 540-A:6, III

The landlord also has to send the tenant a written notice (by registered or certified mail) stating that the security deposit has been transferred to the new owner and what is the new owner's name and address.

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Manchester, New Hampshire NH

New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

If there is no lease agreement, New Hampshire landlord tenant will consider every lease to be a tenancy at will and the tenant has to pay rent whenever the landlord demands for it.  RSA 540:1

As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.

Late Rent

There are no New Hampshire landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

According to the New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.
   
For a month to month tenancy, the landlord has to notify the tenant of a rent increase at least 30 days in advance. The tenant can then choose to pay the higher rent or move out. If the tenant chooses to leave, he or she should give the landlord a 30 day notice to terminate tenancy in writing.  RSA 540:2, IV
   
For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.   

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Act RSA 48-A:14 requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Pest Control: Inspect the property for insects, rodents and bed bugs from time to time and exterminate them
  • Plumbing: Maintain and repair all internal plumbing and sewerage systems
  • Electrical: Replace all exposed wires, improper connectors, defective switches/outlets or other conditions that may cause electrical shock or fire
  • Walls, Floors, Ceilings: Maintain and repair the roof and walls to prevent water leaks. Repair (and plaster) walls, floors and ceilings with substantial damage or holes.
  • Structures: Keep all porches, stairs and railings in good working condition
  • Waste Disposal: Provide outlets for waste disposal and arrange for waste removal
  • Water: Supply running water and hot water (as far as conditions allow)
  • Gas Leaks: Make sure there are no gas leaks or defective pilots lights in appliances provided by the landlord
  • Heating: Provide and heating of at least 65 degrees F in all habitable rooms (as far as conditions allow)

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Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to New Hampshire landlord tenant law RSA 540-A:3, V, the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Inspecting for damages
  • Showing the property to prospective buyers, tenants or contractors
  • Removing the landlord's belongings (that are not part of the tenancy agreement)   

In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant at least 24 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours.

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to New Hampshire landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion  RSA 540-A:3, V
  • Inspecting property for pest infestation (insects, rodents, bedbugs) and exterminating them after giving the tenant reasonable notice
  • Tenant cannot be contacted by normal means
  • Tenant has been away from the property for more than seven days without notice

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Subletting

There are no specific New Hampshire landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire NH

Portsmouth, New Hampshire NH

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, New Hampshire landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit 30 days in advance. This applies for all types of tenancy.  RSA 540:3, II

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Tenant is deployed in the armed forces

See below

Tenant is Deployed in the Armed Forces

After receiving his or her notice for active duty or reassignment, New Hampshire landlord tenant law RSA 540-11-a allows the tenant to terminate the rental agreement in the following situations:

  • Tenant is a member of the armed services reserved who is called to active duty
  • Tenant is a member of the national guard who is called to active duty
  • Tenant is a member of the armed services on active duty who is reassigned to a location out of the state

The tenant may terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a written notice to quit AND a copy of the official orders or signed verification letter by the tenant's commanding officer.

The lease shall be terminated 30 days after the next rent due date (e.g. If the tenant gives notice to quit on 10 Jan and rent is due on 15 Jan, then the lease shall terminate on 15 Feb).

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Eviction

According to New Hampshire landlord tenant law RSA 540:2, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent or utility bills

7 days

Tenant or related person caused substantial property damage

30 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

30 days

Tenant or related person endangered health or safety of landlord or other tenants

7 days

Property contains lead hazards

30 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent or Utility Bills

If the tenant did not pay rent or utility charges on time, the landlord can send the tenant a seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and inform the tenant that he or she can choose to pay or move out.  RSA 540:3, II

If the rent plus $15 (plus any damages) are paid within seven days, the tenant may continue staying on the property. If the tenant is late in paying rent for more than three times in one year, the landlord may refuse the rent and continue with eviction.  RSA 540:9

Eviction Notice

Also known as "Notice of Termination of Tenancy" or "Notice to Quit", the landlord can serve an eviction notice to the tenant with any following method:

  • Give the notice to the tenant in person
  • Leave the notice at the tenant's last known place of residence  RSA 540:5

Unlawful Eviction

According to New Hampshire landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.  RSA 540-A:3, I, II, III

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with (the unlawful methods above) or shuts off utilities, the tenant can EITHER
   
    1. regain possession of the property OR
    2. terminate the tenancy agreement
   
In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for 1.5 times the amount of actual damages.

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Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

There are no specific New Hampshire landlord tenant laws on when the property is considered abandoned by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

If the tenant left his or her personal belongings behind after abandoning the property or being evicted, the landlord must inform the tenant where the belongings are stored AND give the tenant seven days to remove them.  RSA 540-A:3, VII]

The landlord has to make a reasonable effort to store the abandoned belongings and the tenant can recover them without paying rent or storage fees within the first seven days. After seven days, the landlord can dispose the abandoned belongings without inform the tenant.

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Resources

New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Law: New Hampshire Landlord and Tenant Act

New Hampshire Landlord Tenant Handbook: Renting, Security Deposits and Evictions

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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