New Hampshire statutes set forth very specific rules and procedures a landlord must follow when evicting a tenant, and in order for the eviction to be valid, the landlord must carefully follow all of them. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in New Hampshire.
The first step in evicting a tenant is determining whether a landlord has legal cause (a reason) for eviction. New Hampshire law defines legal cause as, among other things, failure to pay rent, violation of the lease or rental agreement, or damage to the property or other people at the property. To evict the tenant for one of these reasons, the landlord needs to terminate the tenancy. The landlord does this by giving the tenant written notice to quit.
If the landlord wants to end a tenancy with a tenant but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord has to just wait until the tenancy has ended before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord will still need to give the tenant written notice to move in some cases.
To end a month-to-month tenancy without legal cause, the landlord must give the tenant a written 30-day notice to quit. The landlord must also have good cause to end the tenancy, but New Hampshire law defines good cause very broadly, including economic or business reasons. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit by the end of the 30-day notice period, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 540:2 and 540:3 (2021).)
If the landlord wants to end a fixed-term lease but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord must just wait until the term has ended. The landlord is not required to give the tenant written notice to move unless the terms of the lease specifically require it. If the tenant has not moved out of the rental unit by the end of the lease term, then the landlord should stop accepting rent from the tenant and proceed with an eviction.
The tenant might decide to fight the eviction, even when the landlord has good legal cause to evict the tenant. The tenant could have a defense to the eviction, such as the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit or discriminating against the tenant. Fighting the eviction could increase the costs of the lawsuit or allow the tenant more time to remain living in the rental unit.
The only way to remove a tenant from a rental unit is for a landlord to win an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Even then, the landlord is not the person who will actually evict the tenant. That will be done by a law enforcement officer. It is illegal for the landlord to ever try to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit, and the tenant can sue the landlord for an illegal eviction.
If the landlord finds personal property that the tenant has left behind in the rental unit after being evicted, then the landlord must store that property for seven days, at the landlord's expense. The tenant must be allowed to access and reclaim the property during that seven-day period. If the tenant does not claim the property during that time, then the landlord can dispose of the property without notice to the tenant. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 540-A:3(VII) (2021).)
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by New Hampshire law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction might not be valid. Although these rules and procedures can seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.