COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in
This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.
This page was last updated on July 6, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
Its information is taken from these sources:Princeton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerGovernor emergency orderUtility Shutoff orderCOVID-19 NH resources FAQNew Hampshire CourtsNew Hampshire Legal AidGovernor June 11 notice order
- Are there any special protections for New Hampshire renters during the emergency? How long do they last?
The New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu ordered that most tenants could not be evicted during the state of emergency (which ended on July 1st). Evictions have now resumed.
- There was an exception for lease or law violations that result in substantial damage to the property or substantial adverse impact on the health and safety of other person.
- Also, the Governor's protections did not apply to people renting rooms in hotels, motels, and inns. They also did not apply to renters who are renting a room in a rooming house for less than 90 consecutive days. (Those who are renting for 91 or more consecutive days are protected).
The governor also ordered that any landlord who wants to evict a tenant based on nonpayment of rent that was due between March 17 to June 11, 2020 must give the tenant at least 30 days notice before filing an eviction lawsuit in the court.
Some renters are also eligible for U.S. national protections through July 25, check here below to see if you qualify.
- What do the protections mean for New Hampshire renters?
The protections meant that for most renters through the state of emergency in New Hampshire:
- Your landlord could not start an eviction proceeding against you.
- Your landlord could not file an eviction claim in court against you.
- Hearings on eviction are still happening.
- The court could not issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
- An existing eviction order could not be enforced against you.
These protections didn't apply in the case of the exceptions listed above -- lease or law violations that result in substantial property damage or health impacts, or for people renting rooms in hotels, motels, and inns.
- Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency in New Hampshire?
Yes, New Hampshire renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help. Your New Hampshire municipal government has an obligation to provide you emergency shelter if you are homeless. They may also have rental assistance. Call your local town or city Welfare Office, or your local Community Action Agency. To get their phone numbers, call the New Hampshire Helpline at 2-1-1.
- Can my landlord evict me during the emergency?
Most New Hampshire renters could not be evicted during the emergency period. Evictions have now resumed and landlords can enforce evictions against renters once again.
You may also be eligible for U.S. national protections through July 25, check here below to see if you qualify.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help. You can also read this guide on how the eviction process works in New Hampshire.
- Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency?
The Governor prohibited all utility shutoffs during the emergency.
Renters must still pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help. Call your local town or city Welfare Office, or your local Community Action Agency. To get their phone numbers, call the New Hampshire Helpline at 2-1-1.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out, without first getting permission from a judge. This is illegal under New Hampshire law RSA 540-A. Reach out to a lawyer for help immediately if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
- Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
- Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
- After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.