Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in New Hampshire

Key laws every New Hampshire landlord and tenant needs to know.

By , Attorney UC Berkeley School of Law
Updated 7/09/2024

New Hampshire laws govern much of the landlord-tenant relationship, including security deposits, late rent, and evictions. Here's a breakdown of key laws that affect nearly all New Hampshire landlords and tenants.

New Hampshire Rental Application and Tenant Screening Laws

New Hampshire law regulates very little of the tenant application and screening process.

Application Fees

There is no law in New Hampshire that prohibits landlords from charging an application fee.

However, starting on January 1, 2025, landlords will have to disclose (in writing) any application or renewal fees before they collect them. The disclosure will have to contain the amount of the fee and whether they require a satisfactory criminal background or credit check (see "Tenant Screening Reports," below). (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540-A:3(VIII) (2024).)

Tenant Screening Reports

A tenant screening report is a credit report, criminal background report, employment history report, or rental history report that a landlord uses to determine whether an applicant would be an acceptable tenant. New Hampshire landlords are free to charge reasonable amounts for tenant screening reports.

Criminal History Screening

New Hampshire does not have a state law prohibiting landlords from considering applicants' criminal histories. However, landlords must still be careful. When landlords consider applicants' criminal history, they must do so in a consistent, nondiscriminatory manner. If a landlord's practice of considering criminal history has a discriminatory effect—for example, if the landlord asks only applicants of a certain color for criminal history information—the landlord is engaging in illegal discrimination and can be subject to penalties. Also, landlords can reject applicants only for past convictions that are directly related to the application—in other words, convictions that have a negative bearing on a legitimate business concern of the landlord.

Fair Housing Laws

All landlords need to follow federal and state antidiscrimination laws when screening applicants for a rental. Federal fair housing laws prohibit landlords from discriminating on the basis of:

New Hampshire's fair housing law mirrors the categories protected under the federal fair housing laws. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 354-A:8 (2024).)

For more information about New Hampshire's fair housing laws, check out the New Hampshire Legal Assistance's Fair Housing Project.

New Hampshire Security Deposit Laws

New Hampshire's security deposit laws do not apply to landlords who rent:

  • a single-family residence and own no other rental property, or
  • units in an owner-occupied building of 5 units or less.

However, the rules do apply to these landlords if any individual unit in the building is occupied by a person who is 60 or older. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540-A:5 (2024).)

Security deposits in New Hampshire are capped at the equivalent of one month's rent. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540-A:6 (2024).)

What Landlords Must Do With Security Deposits

When a landlord accepts a security deposit in New Hampshire, they must give the tenant a signed receipt that notes the amount of the deposit and where the deposit will be held. The receipt must also let the tenant know that they should note any conditions in the rental that need repair or correction on the receipt and return it to the landlord within five days of moving in. A receipt isn't needed if the tenant pays the deposit with a check, but the landlord still has to notify the tenant about the right to report conditions that need correction.

Landlords must put the security deposit in an account in a bank or other financial institution organized under New Hampshire law. Alternatively, landlords can purchase a bond for the amount of the security deposit. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540-A:6 (2024).)

Interest on Security Deposits

Landlords who hold security deposits for a year or longer must pay interest on them. The interest rate must be at the rate equal to the interest rate paid at the bank where the landlord holds the security deposit. If the tenant asks, the landlord must provide the tenant with information about where the security deposit is held. The tenant can request the interest accrued every 3 years, 30 days before the expiration of the tenancy. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540-A:6 (2024).)

Return of Security Deposits

Landlords must return the security deposit (with interest, if applicable) within 30 days of the end of the tenancy. The landlord must provide the tenant with a written, itemized list of any damages for which the landlord has withheld part or all of the security deposit.

If the tenant is required by the lease to pay all or part of any increase in real estate taxes, the landlord can deduct these from the security deposit. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540-A:7 (2024).)

A tenant can seek an amount equal to twice the security deposit plus interest if the landlord doesn't return the security deposit in time. However, if the landlord doesn't return the security deposit because they don't have a forwarding address for the tenant, the landlord isn't liable and can keep the deposit if the tenant hasn't claimed it six months after the tenancy ends. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540-A:8 (2024).)

Required Landlord Disclosures in New Hampshire

In many states, landlords must disclose specific information to tenants and potential tenants. New Hampshire landlords must disclose information about:

  • Methamphetamine: If methamphetamine was produced on the property, and the Department of Environmental Sciences has not determined that the property meets remediation cleanup standards, the landlord must disclose in writing to the tenant that methamphetamine production has occurred. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 477:4-g (2024).)
  • Lead in drinking water: If the presence of lead in drinking water exceeds the action level established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the landlord must tell the tenant or prospective tenant. The landlord must also install on the kitchen faucet a filtering device certified to reduce lead by NSF International/American National Standards Institute and follow all standards for the replacement of the filtering device and cartridges. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540-A:3-a (2024).)

In addition, landlords in all states must follow federal lead-based paint disclosure rules.

New Hampshire Late Fees and Other Rent Rules

In New Hampshire, rent is due on whatever day the landlord and tenant agree to.

Grace Periods and Late Fees

New Hampshire does not require landlords to give tenants a grace period for paying rent. However, a landlord and tenant can agree in the lease or rental agreement that there will be a grace period.

New Hampshire landlords can charge late fees, and there is no cap on how much they can charge. Most judges won't enforce unreasonable late fees, though. In general, a late fee will be considered reasonable as long as it doesn't exceed 4%-5% of the rent and has an upper limit.

Rent Increases

New Hampshire landlords can't raise the rent during the term of a lease unless the lease specifically allows them to do so.

For month-to-month tenancies, New Hampshire law doesn't specify the amount of notice landlords must give to raise the rent. A reasonable amount of notice would likely be the same length of time that the agreement is for: 30 days.

New Hampshire Landlords Must Provide Habitable Rentals

Like landlords in all states, New Hampshire landlords must provide rentals that are safe and fit for human habitation. Specifically, New Hampshire landlords must ensure that the rental is habitable and fit for living, and that there are no defects that make the place unsafe or unsanitary. The implied warranty of habitability in New Hampshire protects tenants from structural defects in the rental. (Walls v. Oxford Management Co., Inc., 633 A.2d 103 (N.H. 1993).)

Specifically, New Hampshire landlords can't rent a property that has:

  • an insect, rodent, or bed bug infestation
  • defective internal plumbing or a back-up of sewage
  • exposed wires, improper connectors, defective switches or outlets, or other conditions that create a danger of electrical shock or fire
  • a leaky roof or walls
  • plaster that is falling or has fallen from the walls or ceilings
  • dangerous holes in the floors, walls, or ceilings
  • structurally unsafe porches, stairs, or railings
  • a buildup of garbage
  • inadequate supply of water or hot water
  • leaks in gas lines or leaks or defective pilot lights in any appliances supplied by the landlord; or
  • improper heating facilities (must be able to maintain an average temperature of at least 65 degrees).

(N.H. Rev. Stat. § 48-A:14 (2024).)

Tenant Remedies in New Hampshire

When a landlord fails to provide a rental that is fit for habitation, the tenant can withhold rent under certain circumstances. The tenant must let the landlord know in writing of the problem that is affecting habitability. If the landlord fails to correct the violation within 14 days of receiving the notice (or promptly if required due to an emergency), the tenant can withhold rent. The problem must not have been caused by the tenant or a guest of the tenant.

If the tenant shows that they notified the landlord of the problem in this manner, the landlord can't bring a successful eviction action against the tenant for withholding rent. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540:13-d (2024).)

Small Claims Lawsuits in New Hampshire

If you find yourself in a battle over a security deposit or repairs, small claims court is a good place to bring your grievance. Small claims courts in New Hampshire can hear cases in which the plaintiff—the person suing—isn't asking for more than $10,000.

Small claims court procedures tend to be simpler than those of regular courts, and, although New Hampshire allows parties to have lawyers, many people represent themselves.

New Hampshire Termination and Eviction Rules

New Hampshire landlords must follow very specific rules and procedures to terminate a tenancy and then, if necessary, file an eviction lawsuit.

Notice of Termination for Cause

A landlord who wants to evict a tenant in New Hampshire before the lease or rental agreement has expired must have cause—in other words, a legally valid reason to terminate the tenancy. Common reasons for terminating a tenancy in New Hampshire include failing to pay rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, damaging the property, or threatening the health and safety of other tenants or the landlord.

When a landlord wants a tenant to leave for cause, the landlord must first terminate the tenancy. This is done by giving the tenant notice. The type of notice depends on the situation.

  • 7-day notice to pay rent or quit: When a tenant doesn't pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a 7-day notice to pay rent or quit (move out). The notice must state why the landlord is terminating the tenancy and tell the tenant that they can avoid eviction by paying the rent owed and any late fees. (A tenant can avoid eviction by paying rent after receiving a notice only 3 times within 12 months. After that, the landlord doesn't have to give the tenant another chance to pay the rent.) If the tenant doesn't pay the rent by the deadline in the notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. (N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 540:2, 540:3, 540:9 (2024).)
  • 30-day unconditional notice to quit: When the tenant breaches a material term of the lease or rental agreement (such as having a pet despite a no-pets policy), doesn't cooperate with the landlord's efforts to eliminate pests, or for "other good cause," the landlord can give the tenant a 30-day notice to quit. The landlord doesn't have to give the tenant the opportunity to fix the problem. If the tenant doesn't move out by the deadline in the notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. (N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 540:2, 540:3 (2024).)
  • 7-day unconditional notice to quit: Landlords can give tenants a 7-day notice telling them to move out—and not give them a chance to fix the situation—when:
    • the tenant or tenant's guests cause substantial damage to the rental
    • the tenant or members of the tenant's family act in a way that affects the health and safety of other tenants or the landlord; or
    • the tenant refuses to accept suitable temporary relocation due to lead-based paint hazard abatement.

If the tenant doesn't move out by the deadline in the notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. (N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 540:2, 540:3 (2024).)

Starting on January 1, 2025, the landlord can also give a tenant a 7-day unconditional notice to quit when the remaining tenant or occupant is the accused perpetrator of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking that resulted in the termination of the lease. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540:3 (2024).)

Notice of Termination Without Cause

New Hampshire requires landlords to have "good cause" to end a tenancy—even when the lease has expired or the tenancy is month-to-month. Here's what New Hampshire landlords can do to end a tenancy when the tenant has done nothing to prompt a termination notice.

Ending a Month-to-Month Tenancy Without Cause

Landlords in New Hampshire must have good cause to end a month-to-month tenancy. This is different from the law in most states; in most states, landlords can end month-to-month tenancies simply by giving sufficient notice. When a tenant hasn't done anything to warrant a termination notice, though, a landlord in New Hampshire must cite a legitimate business or economic reason for wanting to end the tenancy. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540:2(V) (2024); AIMCO Properties, LLC v. Dziewisz, 883 A.2d 310 (N.H. 2005).) (Note: as of the writing of this article, there is a pending bill to eliminate the good cause requirement. Check the General Court of New Hampshire's website for current status.)

When the landlord has good cause, they must give the tenant a 30-day notice that the tenancy is ending. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540:3 (2024).)

Ending a Tenancy With a Long-Term Lease Without Cause

Landlords in New Hampshire can't refuse to renew a long-term lease without good cause, even after the lease has expired. If the landlord has good cause (a legitimate business or economic reason) to not renew the lease, the landlord must give the tenant a 30-day termination notice. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540:2 (2024).)

Tenant Defenses to Eviction

Even though a landlord might have a valid reason to evict a tenant, the tenant can still choose to fight the eviction. For example, the tenant could claim that the eviction is the result of the landlord illegally discriminating. New Hampshire law specifically prohibits evictions that are in retaliation for the tenant reporting a violation of a regulation or housing code, suing the landlord to enforce a legal right, or meeting with other tenants for a lawful purpose. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540:13-a (2024).)

As of January 1, 2025, New Hampshire law will also allow special protections for tenants who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault. Some of these protections might provide a tenant with a defense against eviction. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540:2 (2024).)

A tenant's decision to fight the eviction could increase the costs of the eviction, and it could result in the tenant having more time to remain in the rental. For these reasons, it's often in the best interests of both the tenant and the landlord to try to negotiate a compromise rather than head to court. Mediation is a common way for landlords and tenants to work issues out—check to see if your community has a low-cost or free housing mediation program.

Illegal Evictions

Under New Hampshire law, landlords can't take self-help measures to evict a tenant. For example, a landlord can't exclude the tenant from the rental or willfully cut services such as heat, running water, electricity, gas, or other essentials. Landlords who take self-help measures might be liable for paying the greater of the tenant's damages or $3,000, depending on the situation. Each day that a violation continues is a separate violation, so the fines can really add up. The law gives the tenant the right to move back in and might also make the landlord responsible for the tenant's attorneys' fees. (N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 358-A:10, 540-A:3, 540-A:4 (2024).)

New Hampshire Rules About Landlords' Access to Property

Landlords can always enter a rental with the tenant's consent or when there's a reasonable belief that there's imminent danger to lives or property. Under New Hampshire law, entry by the landlord to evaluate, form a plan for remediation of, or engage in emergency remediation of an infestation of rodents or insects is considered an emergency, as long as the entry takes place within 72 hours of the time the landlord first received notice of the infestation.

Other than an emergency, the only time a landlord can enter a tenant's unit without consent is with a court order.

Tenants must allow the landlord to enter to make necessary repairs or to perform other reasonable functions that are commonly associated with owning real property. For example, a tenant can't unreasonably deny the landlord access for purposes of showing the property to prospective tenants or an annual inspection. In these situations, the landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice. The law doesn't state what is "reasonable," but does note that reasonableness depends on the circumstances.

Tenants must also allow landlords to access the property to evaluate whether bed bugs are present after the landlord has received notice that bed bugs are present in a dwelling unit adjacent to, directly above, or directly below the rental. The landlord must give the tenant 48 hours' written notice before entering.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. § 540-A:3 (2024).)

Where to Find New Hampshire Landlord-Tenant Laws

If you want to read the text of a law itself, visit the New Hampshire courts' website.

Local Ordinances Affecting New Hampshire Landlords and Tenants

Cities and counties often pass local ordinances, such as health and safety standards, noise and nuisance regulations, and anti-discrimination rules that affect landlords and tenants. Many municipalities have websites—just search for the name of a particular city in New Hampshire and then do a search when you're on the site.

Municode is a good source for finding local governments online. Also, your local public library or office of the city attorney, mayor, or city or county manager can provide information on local ordinances that affect landlords and tenants in New Hampshire.

Federal Landlord-Tenant Laws and Regulations

Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have enacted laws and regulations that apply to the landlord-tenant relationship in New Hampshire. These laws and regulations address topics such as discrimination and landlord responsibilities to disclose environmental health hazards, such as lead-based paint.

The U.S. Code is the starting place for most federal statutory research. It consists of 53 separate numbered titles, each covering a specific subject matter. Most federal regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"). To access the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations online, see the federal section of the Library of Congress's legal research site.

Nolo Resources on Legal Research and Landlord-Tenant Law

For more information on legal research, check out Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias (Nolo). This nontechnical book gives easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions on how to find legal information.

You'll also find a wealth of information in Nolo's landlord-tenant books.

For landlords:

For tenants:

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