How to Delay an Eviction in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, you can be evicted for a number of different reasons, including not paying rent or violating the lease. However, there may be a few things you can do to postpone the eviction, or perhaps even stop it altogether.

Understanding Your Eviction Notice

If your landlord decides to evict you, you will first receive a written notice that states the reason for the eviction and a time period to either comply with the notice, if possible, or move out of the rental unit. In New Hampshire, you could typically receive one of three types of eviction notices, depending on the reason for the eviction:

  • Seven-day notice to pay rent or quit: You will receive this notice if you fail to pay rent when it is due. Under this notice, you will have seven days to pay rent or move out of the rental unit (see N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 540:2–5).
  • Seven-day unconditional quit notice: You will receive this notice if you have damaged the rental unit or harmed other tenants or the landlord. Under this notice, you will have seven days to move out of the rental unit (see N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 540:2(II) and 540:3).
  • Thirty-day notice to quit: You can receive this notice for a variety of reasons, including violating the lease or rental agreement or if the landlord wants to terminate a month-to-month lease or rental agreement. Under this notice, you will have 30 days to move out of the rental unit (see N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 540:2 and 540:3).

It is important to note that you are not automatically evicted when the time period runs out. An eviction is a legal proceeding. If you did not comply with the eviction notice by the time the notice period ends, your landlord can then go to court and file the necessary paperwork to begin the eviction lawsuit against you. Depending on how busy the courts are, it could take anywhere from a week to months before a sheriff is ordered to evict you on a certain date. You can remain living in the rental unit until the sheriff is ordered to evict you, but remember that you will be required to pay the landlord rent until the day you move out of the unit.

Also, keep in mind that there are negative consequences to being evicted, other than losing your home. An eviction will have a negative impact on your credit report, and it could affect your prospects for future housing. Some landlords will not rent to people who have been evicted from a previous location.

For more information on the eviction process in New Hampshire, see The Eviction Process in New Hampshire. Also, if you are being evicted because the rental property is being foreclosed, see the Nolo article Rights of Renters in Foreclosure.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy to stop your eviction, you should look at Evictions and the Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy may not stop an eviction, and you should carefully consider your options before doing so.

Talk to Your Landlord

If you receive an eviction notice, you should first try talking to your landlord. You may be able to come to an agreement without going to court. An eviction will cost both of you money (as well as time), and your landlord may be willing to stop the eviction if you agree to certain terms, such as paying rent you owe or stopping behavior that violates the lease. If you can’t come to an agreement that prevents you from moving out, perhaps you can agree on a certain date and time for when you will move out of the rental unit.

If you and the landlord are able to agree on anything, be sure to get the agreement in writing, signed and dated by both of you.

Comply With the Eviction Notice, If Possible

If you are being evicted for not paying rent, then your eviction notice will state how much you owe and by what date it must be paid. If you comply with the eviction notice by paying all the rent due and owing, then, in New Hampshire, the landlord must not proceed with the eviction (see N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 540:2–5).

If you are not able to comply with the eviction notice within the time period stated in the notice, then you should talk to your landlord. For example, you will have seven days to pay rent after you receive a notice. If you can’t pay the rent in full within seven days but you could by the end of the month, you should talk to your landlord to see if you can arrange to pay later. If your landlord agrees to terms that are different from the eviction notice, then you should get the agreement in writing.

Attend the Eviction Hearing

If you do not comply with the eviction notice and you and your landlord are not able to reach an agreement, then your landlord can file the eviction lawsuit with the court. You will receive a copy of the paperwork after your landlord files. You must review this paperwork very carefully. It will have information in it regarding an upcoming hearing. You also must file some paperwork with the court, including an appearance form and possibly an answer, before attending the hearing. An answer is a document that allows you to state the reasons why you should not be evicted. This is where you need to put any defenses to the eviction, such as the rental unit needing necessary repairs. In New Hampshire, a rental unit is required to have working heat and electricity and running hot and cold water, among other things. If the landlord fails to maintain the rental unit, then you might be able to use this as a defense against the eviction (see N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 48-A:14 and 540:13-d). For more ideas on possible defenses against an eviction, see Tenant Defenses to Evictions in New Hampshire. You should also contact a lawyer to ensure you are using the best defenses available to you.

Regardless of whether you are required to file an answer, you must file an appearance form and attend the hearing before the judge. At the hearing, the judge will listen to both you and the landlord and make a decision regarding the eviction. If you do not attend the hearing, the judge will most likely rule against you. The New Hampshire Judicial Branch provides more information on the eviction process.

Even if you don’t have any defenses against the eviction, you should still attend the hearing and talk to the judge. Depending on your circumstances (such as if you have minor children living at home or health issues), the judge might not schedule the eviction right away. The judge might give you a little extra time to prepare and move out of the rental unit before ordering a sheriff to perform the eviction. Keep in mind, though, that you will still owe your landlord rent until you move out of the rental unit.

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