Legal FAQs for Renters in New Mexico

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.

This page was last updated on Sep 16th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

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Emergency Protections during COVID

Emergency Protections during COVID


Are there any special protections for renters during COVID-19 in New Mexico?

The special protections in New Mexico have expired.

Earlier, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued an order preventing physical evictions during the emergency, if a renter can show that they are unable to pay the rent. During the emergency period, renters could not be removed from their homes based on nonpayment of rent.

Some local New Mexico governments, like Santa Fe and Albuquerque, may have additional protections for renters. Check with your local city or county to see if you have more protections.

What do the protections mean for New Mexico renters?

Now that the emergency period in New Mexico has ended:

  1. Your landlord can give you a notice to quit.
  2. Your landlord can file an eviction claim in court against you.
  3. Hearings on eviction are happening, and the court may hear an eviction case against you.
  4. The court may issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
  5. An eviction order may be enforced against you.
Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency in New Mexico?

Yes, New Mexico 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:

  • Apply for rent assistance: If you need financial assistance for housing costs like rent or utility bills, you may be able to get help.
  • 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.
Can my landlord evict me during the emergency in New Mexico?

Now that the emergency period has ended in New Mexico, your landlord may try to evict you. The statewide protections have ended.

Your landlord may begin a lawsuit against you, and the court may hear the case.

If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.

Can my utilities be shut off during COVID-19 in New Mexico?

The utility moratorium in New Mexico has expired. Earlier, the Public Service of New Mexico had suspended disconnections and late fees for electric services.

If you need help paying for housing utilities, visit PNM's help page or call the company at 855-364-2950. The PNM COVID Customer Relief Fund, the PNM Good Neighbor Fund, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and other resources may be available to help pay down or possibly pay off past-due bills for residential customers.

Check with your local government and utility providers about other utilities, aside from electricity.

Renters still must pay their utility bills. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.

Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.

What if I need repairs during COVID-19 in New Mexico?

Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.

The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.

Emergency repairs could be for problems with:

  • Running water or hot water
  • Heat or air conditioning
  • Stove, refrigerator, or oven
  • Electricity
  • Bathroom use
  • Missing doors, locks, or windows
  • Pests

If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication).

Reach out for legal help for additional guidance.

Can I break my lease during COVID-19 in New Mexico?

You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.

Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period.

However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.

Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease (in some cases penalty-free).

Find legal help to get advice for your situation.

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me during COVID-19 in New Mexico?

Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.

It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must take you to court by filing an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and getting an eviction order from the court.

Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.

Find legal help to protect your rights.

Are eviction cases still proceeding through New Mexico courts?

New Mexico court cases are still proceeding. Check with your local court here for more information and updates.

Did I have eviction protections under the CARES Act?

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.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?

Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?


My landlord gave me a notice to "pay or quit" my rental home in New Mexico. What should I do?

You do not have to leave your home yet.

In New Mexico, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you three business days to either pay your rent or prepare defenses against eviction.

This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.

These are the New Mexico requirements for an eviction notice:

  1. The notice must be written down.
  2. It has to have your full name and address.
  3. It must explain why you may be evicted -- whether it is for non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or other reason.
  4. The notice must say exactly how much rent you owe and the dates the rent is for.
  5. It has to say that this rent must be fully paid within 3 days of receiving this notice or you must move out.

Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.

Find local legal help in New Mexico here.

What if the landlord has just told me, face-to-face or over the phone, that I need to leave my home in New Mexico?

A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice" in New Mexico. To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.

Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.

Find local legal help in New Mexico here.

Do I have to leave my home by the time of the eviction notice's expiration date in New Mexico?

No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.

You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.

After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.

Find local legal help in New Mexico here.

My eviction notice says that I will be evicted unless I pay back-rent I owe in New Mexico. What if I can't afford to pay it?

You still have time to reach out for rental assistance, and stop the eviction from moving forward.

Additionally, there is a possibility that you will not be evicted even if you are unable to get assistance paying the past due amount. This is because the New Mexico Supreme Court currently has an order in place which prevents the sheriff from evicting tenants if the tenant attends the eviction hearing and is able to prove to the judge that they have a current inability to pay rent.

Be sure to let the local group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan.

Find local financial help in New Mexico here.

How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice to pay back the rent to stop the eviction in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, you have a minimum of 3 days between your landlord giving you a notice and them filing a lawsuit against you in court to evict you.

The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 3 days, then you may be able to challenge it as illegal.

Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment.

Find local legal help in New Mexico here.

Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?

Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?


My landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against me in court in New Mexico. What should I do?

You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In New Mexico, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:

  1. Only certain people can give you the lawsuit's Summons and Complaint. The landlord can not give you these papers - it has to be a person not involved in the case. This can be the sheriff, a private process server, or any competent person over 18.
  2. These papers must be directly handed to either you or to a member of your household that is at least 15 years old.
  3. If it can not be personally served, one of the people above can post the notice on your door. If they post it, they must also mail it to you.

You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.

Find local legal help in New Mexico here.

Do I have to do anything after I get an eviction Summons and Complaint in New Mexico?

You are not required to file any response with the court in New Mexico. However, you MUST attend the eviction hearing (the date will be listed on the summons) if you have any defenses to present or would like to challenge the eviction.

If you cannot attend the hearing on the date it is scheduled, you may ask the court to reset the hearing. The law in New Mexico states that an eviction hearing can be reset for 7 days if either party can show a good reason for resetting it.

Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.

Find local legal help in New Mexico here.

Can I settle my eviction case without going to court in New Mexico?

You can come to an agreement, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.

You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.

Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.

Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.

You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.

Find local legal help in New Mexico here.

Behind on Rent?

Behind on Rent?


Who can help me with rent that I owe?

If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.

Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.

Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.

Am I eligible for rent relief?

Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.

You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.

You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.

You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to see if you are eligible.

Does immigration status matter for rent relief?

Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.

Can a landlord apply for their renter, to get rental assistance?

Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.

Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.

The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program about the steps to follow to apply for rent relief.

Get Help From Local Groups

State 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 TrackerSupreme Court orderElectricity servicesNew Mexico courts

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