Most residential leases and rental agreements in New Hampshire require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of New Hampshire landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does New Hampshire law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under New Hampshire landlord-tenant laws, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of one month's rent for the security deposit or $100, whichever is greater. In New Hampshire, when the landlord and tenant share the rental property, there's no statutory limit on the deposit.
New Hampshire landlords must pay interest on security deposits held for a year or longer.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in New Hampshire for returning a security deposit?
Under New Hampshire law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has moved out. If the tenant and landlord share the rental property and the deposit is more than 30 days' rent, the landlord must provide a written agreement specifying when the deposit will be returned; but, if there's no written agreement, the deadline is 20 days after the tenant vacates.
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that New Hampshire landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in New Hampshire?
Yes. Landlords in New Hampshire must provide a receipt stating the amount of the security deposit and the institution where it will be held, unless the tenant has paid the security deposit by personal or bank check or by a check issued by a government agency. And, in New Hampshire, a landlord must pay interest on any security deposit held for a year or longer.
Are there any exceptions to New Hampshire security deposit rules?
Yes. The entire security deposit law does not apply to landlords who lease a single-family residence and own no other rental property. The law also does not apply to a landlord who leases rental units in an owner-occupied building of five units or fewer (with the exception of units in the building that are occupied by a person 60 years of age or older).
Where can I look up New Hampshire law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up New Hampshire law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated §§ 540-A:5 to 540-A:8; 540-B:10. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in New Hampshire. For tips on looking up New Hampshire state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information in the tenant guide available at http://doj.nh.gov/consumer/sourcebook/renting.htm.