New Mexico Landlord Tenant Law

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

The New Mexico Uniform Owner Resident Act applies if you are renting a residence, such as a house, apartment or mobile home. It does NOT cover hotels, motels or rent-to-own agreements. It also does NOT cover properties used for commercial, educational, farming, fraternal, medical or religious purposes. Housing provided by employers are also excluded from this Act.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-9

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 Mexico landlord tenant law disallows landlords from discriminating someone as a renter because of his or her ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity or marriage status.

However if the dwelling has four or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws.  42 U.S.C. § 3603(b)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

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.

In the absence of a rental agreement, the tenancy shall be month to month by default. If the tenant pays rent every week, then the tenancy shall be week to week.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-15.(c)

Required for Tenancy Agreement

New Mexico landlord tenant law NMSA 1978, § 47-8-19.(A) requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property
  • Name and address or property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner)
  • 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 Mexico landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make the landlord or tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the Landlord and Tenant Act  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-16

If a landlord knowingly includes prohibited terms and conditions in the lease agreement, the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages and attorney fees.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-17

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Security Deposit

If the lease duration is one year or longer,  New Mexico landlord tenant law does not limit the maximum amount of security deposit that the landlord can ask (as long as the tenant is agreeable).

If the security deposit exceeds one month's rent, the landlord shall have to pay the tenant interest on the deposit every year. The interest paid shall be equal to the passbook interest of savings and loans associations in New Mexico.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-18.(a)(1)

If the lease duration is shorter than one year, the landlord can ask for up to one month's rent as security deposit.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-18.(a)(2)

Deductions and Returns

New Mexico landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-18.(c)

Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under New Mexico landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties - See Tenant Duties and Responsibilities below  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-22

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.
   
If the landlord fails to follow New Mexico landlord tenant law NMSA 1978, § 47-8-18.(D) for deducting and returning security deposit, the landlord shall:

  • lose the right to withhold any of the deposit
  • lose the right to counterclaim if the tenant take legal actions to recover the deposit
  • have to pay for the tenant's court costs and attorney fees
  • lose the right to take legal action against the tenant for property damages

In addition, the landlord has to pay the tenant $250 if he or she retained the deposit with ill intentions.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Albuquerque, New Mexico NM

New Mexico Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-15.(B)

By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid on the same day of every month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property.

Late Rent

If the landlord wants to impose late rent fees, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement.

If the rental agreement allows late fees, the landlord can charge late fees up to 10% of the rent amount.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-15.(D)

Raising Rent

According to the New Mexico Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-15.(F)

For a month to month tenancy, the landlord has to notify the tenant of a rent increase at least 30 days in advance. In the case of a periodic tenancy less than one month, the notice provided must be at least one rental period in advance of the first rental payment to be increased.

For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires. The landlord must give 30 days advance notice before the end of the rental term to the tenant before raising the rent.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The New Mexico Landlord Tenant Act NMSA 1978, § 47-8-20 requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe (includes removing snow and ice from common areas)
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Waste Disposal: Provide outlets for waste disposal and arrange for waste removal
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

New Mexico landlord tenant law NMSA 1978, § 47-8-22 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Cleanliness: Keep the property clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose all waste from the property in a clean and safe manner
  • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit as clean as their condition permits
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities (e.g. elevators).
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Neighbors: Avoid disturbing neighbors and also disallow others from disturbing neighbors
  • Regulations: Obey all condominium, cooperative housing and neighborhood association rules (that do not conflict with the landlord's rights or duties)

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails to maintain property and it affects health and safety , the tenant has two choices:

1. The tenant can terminate the lease

The tenant must give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and giving the landlord seven days to fix it, or else the tenant will move out.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-27.1

If the problem is fixed within seven days (of the landlord receiving this notice), the tenancy shall continue. If the problem isn't fixed, the tenancy will terminate and the landlord shall return the security deposit and prepaid rents (after deductions) to the tenant.

2. The tenant can stop paying part or all of the rent until repairs are made

The tenant must give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and giving the landlord seven days to fix it.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-27.2

If the problem isn't fixed within seven days, the tenant can stop paying 1/3 less rent (prorated daily) until repairs are made. This rent reduction shall begin from the day the landlord was informed of the problems.

Whether the tenant chooses to terminate the lease or withhold rent, he or she can also sue the landlord for damages and obtain a court order (that requires the landlord to do, or stop doing something).

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to New Mexico landlord tenant law NMSA 1978, § 47-8-24.(A), 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

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.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-24.(A)(1)

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to New Mexico landlord tenant law NMSA 1978, § 47-8-24, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion
  • Tenant has been away from the property for more than seven days
  • Court order granting landlord access to the property
  • Tenant has abandoned the property

If Tenant Refuses Landlord's Valid Request to Enter Property

The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property. Otherwise the landlord can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that requires the tenant to let the landlord in OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement by giving the tenant a written notice

In addition, the landlord can also sue the tenant for actual damages.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-24.(E), NMSA 1978, § 47-8-38

If Landlord Enters Property Illegally

The landlord must have a valid reason and obtain the tenant's permission (whenever required) to enter the property. If the landlord fails to do so or harasses the tenant, the tenant can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that stops the landlord from entering the property illegally or harassing the tenant OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement by giving the tenant a written notice

In addition, the tenant can also sue the landlord for actual damages.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-24.(F)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Subletting

There are no specific New Mexico 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?

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Santa Fe, New Mexico NM

Santa Fe, New Mexico NM

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, New Mexico landlord tenant law NMSA 1978, § 47-8-37 requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance:

Week to week tenancy

7 days

Month to month tenancy

30 days

TENANT

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

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

Immediate

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is badly damaged by fire, disasters or unavoidable accidents, the tenant can immediately move out and stop paying rent. The tenancy shall terminate once the tenant moves out. After moving out, the tenant must inform the landlord that he or she intends to terminate the tenancy within seven days.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-31

After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.

If only part of the property is damaged, the tenant should move out of the damaged area. The rent amount will be lowered based on how much of the property is still livable.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Eviction

According to New Mexico landlord tenant law, 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

3 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

7 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

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a three 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.

If the rent is paid within three days, the tenant may stay.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-33.(d)

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement or Didn't Perform Duties

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement in a *significant manner, the landlord can send the tenant a seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy. *Significant manner refers to situations that affects human health and safety.

Similarly if the tenant fails to perform his or her duties (as required by New Mexico landlord tenant law) in a significant manner, the landlord can also send the tenant a seven day written notice to terminate the tenancy.

This written notice has to state what is the tenant's violation or failure in duty. If the tenant corrects the problem within seven days, the tenant may stay.

However if the tenant violates the tenancy agreement (or fails in his or her duty) in a similar manner within six months, the landlord can evict the tenant by sending him or her a written seven day notice. In this case, the tenant must move out.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-33.(b)

Unlawful Eviction

According to New Mexico landlord tenant law NMSA 1978, § 47-8-36, the landlord CANNOT threaten or force the tenant off by the property with the following methods:

  • Changing locks
  • Blocking entrance to the property
  • Shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation)
  • Taking the tenant's belongings
  • Removing appliances or fixtures
  • Making the property unlivable
  • Committing fraud

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with the above methods, the tenant won't have to pay rent during the period he or she is denied property access or essential services.

The tenant can choose to either regain possession of the property or terminate the tenancy agreement. In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for two month's rent plus actual damages.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-36.(C)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

According to New Mexico landlord tenant law, the tenant has abandoned the property when BOTH conditions are met:

  1. Tenant has been absent from the property for more than seven consecutive days without informing the landlord
  2. Tenant is late in paying rent  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-3.(A)

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

If the tenant abandoned the property and left his or her personal belongings behind, the landlord must inform the tenant where the belongings are stored AND give the tenant at least 30 days to remove them.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-34.1.(A)

The landlord has to send the tenant a written notice stating when the landlord intends to dispose the belongings (after 30 days) and include the landlord's phone number and address. This notice must be sent by first class mail to the tenant's last known address. If the notice is returned as undeliverable, the landlord has to resend it to the tenant's work address, family member or emergency contact.

If the tenant claims the belongings (before the deadline), the landlord can charge the tenant for their moving and storage costs.

If Tenant Doesn't Recover Belongings in 30 Days

If the belongings are worth less than $100, the landlord can dispose them in any manner.  NMSA 1978, § 47-8-34.1.(E)

If the belongings are worth more than $100, the landlord can EITHER:

  1. sell the belongings to cover payments owed by tenant and send any leftover amount (plus an itemized statement) to the tenant's last known address OR
  2. keep the belongings to cover payments owed by tenant and send any leftover amount (plus an itemized statement) to the tenant's last known address.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Resources

New Mexico Landlord Tenant Law: New Mexico Uniform Owner Resident Relations Act

New Mexico Landlord Tenant Handbook: New Mexico Legal Aid Renter's Guide

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

Like and Share ☺