There was a large push back about the 7 day notice for unauthorized pets. This session we are submitting the bill with out the inclusion of unauthorized pets.
We have also heard that there is an amendment that will be introduced that would force jurisdiction of the eviction case to be the court where the property resides instead of allowing the option for the jurisdiction to be in the court where the property owner resides. We need to defeat this amendment also.
This is one of the major bills this session and we still expect good sized push back and definitely need every one to show up at hearings and communicate to the committees and legislators to support this very important bill.
New Hampshire law allows a landlord in most residential tenancies to evict tenants by serving the tenants either a 7 days Eviction Notice or a 30 days eviction notice. Presently the 7 days eviction notice can only be used in certain limited circumstances. Those circumstances are: (a) non-payment of rent (b) substantial damages caused by the tenant, members of his family or guests (c) behavior by the tenant, members of his family or guest that adversely affects the health, safety of the landlord or other tenants or failure to accept temporary alternative housing during lead paint abatement. All other evictions require a 30 days Eviction Notice.
This bill has major advantages for landlords in dealing with the tenants who are purposely breaking the terms of a lease in the two circumstances outlined above, or do not have the financial means to abide by the terms of the lease.
HB1370, if enacted, would add two additional circumstances where a landlord could use a 7 days Eviction Notice. These two are:
(1) Failure to establish utilities in the tenant’s name or terminating utility service when the tenant is required to pay such under the terms of the lease. Please note, that each of the above categories has to be a breach of the lease. For those landlords who do not use leases, or do not prohibit these categories in their leases, they would not be able to use the provisions of this bill, if it became law.
(2) a person staying in the leased premises who is not a party to the lease, and does not have the consent of the landlord, for more than 14 consecutive days or more than 30 days in a calendar year
If a tenant does not put utilities into his or her name, or terminates utilities or has utilities shut off on them, one of two things could happen. The first is creating a risk of the building freezing during the winter. The longer the utilities are off, the greater the risk of damage to the building. The second is that the utilities are often transferred into the landlord’s name, and the landlord has to pay for services that the tenant agreed to pay for when the tenant signed the lease. Since a landlord may not terminate utilities on a tenant the landlord then remains stuck paying for a tenant’s utilities which the tenant should be paying per the lease agreement. Reducing the time that tenant had to use someone else’s services, would reduce the loss to the landlord. This is no different than a non-payment of rent, especially since rents are reduced when utilities, principally heat, is not included.
The bill would also allow the tenant to cure these lease violations and stop the eviction by having the utilities billed to the tenant and paying the landlord any costs the landlord incurred in the seven days. The tenant can only cure this violation three times in the last 12 months, however.
Extra people who move into our apartments, especially if the landlord pays for heat and hot water, use these utilities solely at the expense of the landlord. The additional people not only increase utility usage but also wear and tear of the apartment, again at the landlord’s expense. These people also are not parties to lease, many times do not know or care about the terms of the lease or the rules and regulations of the landlord, and have nothing to lose if they violate the terms of the lease. Since they are invited into the apartment by the tenant, the police are reluctant to issue a no trespass order. Basically, these extra people are living for free at the landlord’s expense. Some may even consider these people stealing our services. And what about those cases where an invitee of a tenant takes over the apartment saying they are the tenant but have never signed or agreed to any terms of the lease. People who are “crashing” at someone's apartment, can be a danger to the landlord and other tenants unless properly screened and approved.
The tenant can also cure the lease violation of an extra person living in the apartment by having the extra person permanently move from the apartment within the seven days. The tenant can only cure this lease violation once.
Landlords often get complaints from other tenants at the property about these issues. This bill would help landlords to more quickly address the concerns of other tenants in the building & enforce the terms of the lease more efficiently.
This is our bill and we need to fully support its passage.
Here are some thoughts relating to the amendment taking away a landlord’s option to hold eviction hearings in the court where the property owner resides.
a. Landlords have way way more eviction hearings than a single tenant so the jurisdiction really should be in the court where the property owner resides. Also, for one eviction the landlord needs to go to court to get the original LT-Writ, then go to court to file the served LT-Writ, then go to attend court hearing, then go to court to request Writ of Possession be held for pickup, then go to court to pick up writ of possession.
The landlord goes to the court many more times than the tenant.
b. Tenants can request jurisdiction be moved to their location which the court can grant if it sees the need.
c. Tenants very often don't even show up anyway. Requesting a hearing was simply a delaying tactic.
d. The landlord is already inconvenienced by the tenant not paying the rent, providing free housing during the eviction process. If the tenant paid the rent it would not be an issue. Why make the eviction more difficult for the small businessman (landlord)?
e. The courts have gone electronic, on line, for small claims. Word is that eviction filing etc will be online in less than a year.
This amendment for changing the venue is not needed because present law already states that in case other than non-payment the court “shall” transfer the venue. In cases of non-payment the court “may” transfer venue. The RSA is quoted immediately below.
“RSA 502-A:16-a. Change of Venue in Possessory Actions Regarding Residential Property
Venue in possessory actions concerning residential property brought pursuant to RSA 540 which are initiated in a judicial district other than that in which the defendant resides may be transferred as follows: I. In cases based on grounds other than nonpayment of rent, venue shall be transferred to the judicial district in which the defendant resides at the request of the defendant. II. In cases based on nonpayment of rent, venue may be transferred to the judicial district in which defendant resides when the court, in its discretion, determines that justice so requires.”
A plan language explanation of the above provision is included on page to of the LT-Writ underneath the caption in bold “Information for tenant”.
At the House Judiciary Committee hearing, 1/26/16, there was an amendment introduced that would add similar language to the RSA related to homeless shelters. We are not aware of any concerns for us on that issue. There were several suggestions that the amendment be moved to another bill that would be more related to homelessness shelters which is completely separate body of law.