Tenants have certain responsibilities and terms that they have to abide by when they sign a lease agreement. For example, making timely rent payments and reporting maintenance issues when they occur. However, there is always a risk that a tenant will not respect the lease or rental agreement.
Your tenant may fall behind with their rent or present other issues to you. And at that point, you may be left with no other option than to evict them. In New Hampshire, there is a specific legal process you must follow for the eviction to be successful. The following is a step-by-step process you must evict a tenant.
Step #1: Have a Valid Reason
You cannot evict your tenant for just any reason. The reason for eviction must meet the minimum legal threshold. The following are valid reasons for tenant evictions in the state of New Hampshire:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Excessive property damage
- Gross violation of the terms of the lease agreement
- Illegal use of the property
- Causing disturbance to other neighbors
Step #2: Post the Eviction Notice
Once you have a legal reason, move on to the next step and serve the tenant with an eviction notice. The purpose of eviction notices is to terminate a tenancy. It’s important to note, however, that there are different types of eviction notices in the state of New Hampshire depending on the eviction reason. They are as follows:
Nonpayment of Rent
For tenants who refuse to pay rent, you must serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit. As the landlord, you must serve it once rent falls due. The notice gives the tenant 7 days to either pay all the overdue rent or move out.
Unlike some other states, New Hampshire also permits landlords to charge liquated damages ($15) on top of the rent owed plus any late fees. If the tenant doesn’t pay this, you can proceed with the eviction action.
For lease violations, you must serve the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit. Tenants in New Hampshire have a duty to uphold their responsibilities as per the rental agreement. Examples of lease violations that fall under this category include unapproved subletting and having an unauthorized pet.
A tenant ‘holds over’ refuses to leave after the rental term has expired. If you’re looking to evict such a tenant, you must serve them a 30 days’ notice regardless of the type or length of tenancy.
If the tenant remains on the property after the 30 days are over, you can proceed with the eviction.
Refusal to Relocate during a Lead-Paint Abatement
In New Hampshire, you can also evict a tenant if they refuse to move out of the rental unit so that you can address lead-paint hazards. In this case, you’re required to provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
The notice will give the tenant 7 days to move out of the unit permanently or else get evicted.
Excessive Property Damage
You can also evict a tenant in New Hampshire for causing excessive property damage. In such an instance, you must provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit. This gives the tenant 7 days to move out or else face eviction. If the tenant doesn’t leave by the expiry of the notice, you can move to court.
Examples of excessive property damage include missing door handles, a hole in the door, and a broken toilet seat.
Failure to Prepare Rental Unit for Treatment
You can evict a tenant in New Hampshire if they fail to prepare their unit for necessary insect or rodent treatments. Before proceeding with the eviction, you’ll need to provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
To evict a tenant who is threatening the health or safety of other tenants, you must give them a 7-Day Notice to Quit. The law, however, doesn’t specify what criminal acts endanger other tenants’ health or safety.
Step #3: File the Complaint
Next, you must file a complaint in the right court. This should cost you about $125 in filing fees. You may also need to pay an additional $1 in case you need a writ after a successful ruling. The sheriff is the person mandated by law to serve the summons and complaint on the tenant.
Step #4: File an Appearance
Sometimes a tenant may want to contest the eviction if they feel it’s unwarranted, unfair, discriminatory or if proper procedure wasn’t followed.
An appearance is a document that a tenant will need to file in court to attend the hearing. If it isn’t filed on time, the court may issue a default judgment in your favor.
Step #5: Court Hearing & Judgment
Once the tenant files an appearance, an eviction hearing will typically be held within 10 days. The tenant can choose whether or not to appear. If they choose not to appear, the court will issue a default judgment in your favor. As such, the tenant will have no other recourse than to move out.
If the court rules in your favor, either through the hearing or a default judgment, the court will issue you a writ of possession. If your tenant wants to appeal, they will have 7 days to do so once the judgment is rendered.
Step #6. Removal of the Tenant
Once the writ of possession is issued, the tenant will have to leave. Typically, a court will take anywhere between 5 and 7 days to issue the writ of possession. The state law doesn’t, however, specify how quickly the sheriff must remove the tenant from the unit.
As a landlord, it’s important to understand and follow the legal eviction process in the state. You should also familiarize yourself with landlord-tenant laws, security deposit laws, and rent increase policies.
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws change frequently, and this post might not be updated at the time you read it. Please reach out to a licensed attorney if you need legal help.