Monday, March 14, 2011

Call To Action - Rent Escrow Bill

Landlords Helping Landlords

March 2011
Call to Action
Rent Escrow Bill


Dear Property Owner
We have the opportunity to get a favorable committee vote on rent escrow!!

The NH Senate Judiciary Committee
will meet on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm to hear Senate Bill 44.

SB 44 allows for the payment of rent into court during an eviction proceeding. Failure to make this payment during the court action results in an eviction against the tenant.

The intent here is to reduce the number of frivolous actions by tenants who have no intentions of defending an eviction action, but do so to buy extra time. Tenants are required to pay rent to the court on a weekly basis if they intend to defend any eviction action.

AN ACT relative to payment of rent pending a landlord-tenant action.
SPONSORS: Sen. Boutin, Dist 16; Sen. Sanborn, Dist 7; Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Rep. Jasper, Hills 27; Rep. Infantine, Hills 13; Rep. W. Hutchinson, Hills 9; Rep. Packard, Rock 3
COMMITTEE: Judiciary
ANALYSISThis bill requires the tenant to pay rent on a weekly basis pending an eviction proceeding.
Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven
AN ACT relative to payment of rent pending a landlord-tenant action.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 Landlord-Tenant Action; Payment of Rent. Amend RSA 540:13, II(a) to read as follows:
(a) If the tenant wishes to contest the eviction, [he] the tenant must file an appearance in the district court no later than the return day appearing on the writ and shall pay, on a weekly basis with the first payment due upon the filing of the appearance, all rent as it becomes due between the date of the appearance and the date that final judgment is issued. Otherwise, judgment shall be issued in favor of the landlord. The court shall retain 10 percent of such funds as an administration fee, and the balance of such funds shall be distributed to the prevailing party in the eviction action.
2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2012.

Various amendments to this bill have been discussed (including a change to percentage charged by the courts for collecting rent) since the original publication. Please be aware that the NHPOA has reviewed many of the suggested amendments, many of which are more favorable to landlords. An amendment may be introduced during the public hearing, so please be prepared to argue your point vigorously.

The NHPOA has been advised that we will need to fill the room during the public hearing, if we are to sway the committee in our favor. If you have never joined us in Concord before, please do so. If you will be joining us on Thursday, invite a fellow landlord to join you. The numbers are critical to our success.

We, as landlords, need to stop complaining about the laws which we find ludicrous and oppressive. We need to stand up and make our voices count. This is the time to do that. Letters and calls to your Senators do not make the same impact as your presence at the hearing. Your presence at the hearing makes it difficult for the committee to decide against us. If we don't have the numbers, the committee will believe that this issue is not that important to landlords.

Property owners in Massachusetts are also trying to pass a rent escrow law to avoid what is commonly referred to as the "free rent trick" Tenants stop paying rent. They call in the building inspector. They get code violations cited. And now they claim they are withholding rent for code violations and cannot be evicted. Some even prolong their free rent status by blocking repairs and deliberately creating more code violations. This unchecked rent withholding goes on as long as the tenants can keep it up -- many months, sometimes years. Rent escrowing would stop the free rent trick.

As landlords you are in the business of renting properties. This bill affects your business. It improves your bottom line. No-one is going to take care of your business if you don't.

Come to Concord and help us
take care of "business".

Quote of the day:
The ways things are going, pretty soon you will be able to list your tenants as "dependents" on your tax return.

Debbie Valente New Hampshire Property Owners Association
(603) 881-3682

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