New Hampshire Rental Laws

Written on May 21, 2015 by , updated on November 1, 2017

flag-of-new-hampshireThis article summarizes some key New Hampshire landlord-tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.

With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.

If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the state bar association. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice.

Official Rules and Regulations

Definitions:

  • Unrestricted Property: All real property rented for nonresidential purposes and the following real property rented for residential purposes: (§§ 540:1-a)
    • Single-family houses, if the owner of such a house does not own more than 3 single-family houses at any one time.
    • Rental units in an owner-occupied building containing a total of 4 dwelling units or fewer.
    • Single-family houses acquired by banks or other mortgagees through foreclosure.
  • Restricted Property: All real property rented for residential purposes, except for “Unrestricted Properties”. (§§ 540:1-a)
  • Landlord: A person and his or its employees, officers or agents who rents or leases to another person a rental unit, including space in a manufactured housing park as regulated by RSA 205-A and in manufactured housing, for other than vacation or recreational purposes. A person who rents or leases a single-family residence and owns no other rental property or who rents or leases rental units in an owner-occupied building of 5 units or less shall not be considered a “landlord”, except for any individual unit in such building which is occupied by a person or persons 60 years of age or older. (§§ 540-A:5)
  • Security Deposit: All funds in excess of the monthly rent which are transferred from the tenant to the landlord for any purpose. (§§ 540-A:5)
  • Tenant: Any person who rents or leases residential premises owned by another, including space in a manufactured housing park regulated by RSA 205-A and in manufactured housing, for other than vacation or recreational purposes. (§§ 540-A:5)
  • Rental Unit: Each separate part of any residential premises which has full facilities for habitation, including contiguous living, sleeping, kitchen and bathroom facilities, which is held out for rental by the landlord. (§§ 540-A:5)

Security Deposit:

  • Exemption: The laws on security deposits do not apply to a person who rents or leases a single-family residence and owns no other rental property, or who rents or leases rental units in an owner-occupied building of 5 units, except for any individual unit in such building which is occupied by a person or persons 60 years of age or older. (§§ 540-A:5(I))
  • Security Deposit Maximum: Not to exceed one month’s rent or $100, whichever is greater. (§§ 540-A:6(I)(a))
  • Security Deposit Interest: Required if security deposit is held longer than one year. Landlord shall pay tenant interest on the deposit at a rate equal to the interest rate paid on regular savings accounts in the New Hampshire bank, savings and loan association, or credit union in which it is deposited, starting from the date the landlord receives the deposit. Tenant may request the interest accrued on a security deposit every three years, 30 days before the expiration of that year’s tenancy, and the landlord shall comply with the request within 15 days of the expiration of that year’s tenancy. (§§ 540-A:6(IV))
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: Separate accounts not required, as landlord may mingle all security deposits held in a single account. Landlord shall not mingle deposit funds with landlord’s personal funds. If landlord mingles security deposits in a single account under, landlord shall pay the actual interest earned on such account proportionately to each tenant. (§§ 540-A:6 (II)(a) and (IV)(a))
  • Disclosure of Bank Account: Upon request, a landlord shall provide to the tenant the name of any bank, savings and loan association, or credit union where his security deposit is on deposit, the account number, the amount on deposit, and the interest rate on the deposit and shall allow the tenant to examine his security deposit records. (§§ 540-A:6(IV)(b))
  • Receipt of Deposit: Unless the deposit was paid by personal check, a bank check, or a check issued by a government or nonprofit agency on behalf of the tenant, the landlord must issue a receipt. (§§ 540-A:6(I)(c))
  • Written Notice of Needed Repairs at Move-in: Landlord shall provide written notice to tenant that a written list of conditions in unit that are in need of repair or correction, if any, should be given to the landlord within five days of occupancy. (§§ 540-A:6(I)(c))
  • Pet Deposits: No statute
  • Non-Refundable Fees: No statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: Within 30 days from the termination of the tenancy (§§ 540-A:7(I))
  • Permitted Uses of the Deposit: (§§ 540-A:7(II))
    • If tenant is required under the lease agreement to pay all or part of any increase in real estate taxes levied against the property and becoming due and payable during the term of the lease;
    • If there is unpaid rent due;
    • If there are other lawful charges due under the lease which remain unpaid.
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Landlord must provide a written, itemized list of damages for which the landlord claims the tenant is liable, and shall specify the repairs necessary to correct any damage and provide satisfactory evidence that repair necessary to correct these damages has been or will be completed. (§§ 540-A:7(I))
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: Satisfactory evidence of necessary repairs may include, but are not be limited to, receipts for purchased repair materials and labor estimates, bills or invoices indicating the actual or estimated cost thereof. (§§ 540-A:7(I))
  • Receipt of Security Deposit: For cash deposits, signed receipt required stating the amount of the deposit and specifying the institution where the deposit will be held, unless deposit is made by check, in which case no receipt is required. (§§ 540-A:6(I)(b))
  • Failure to Comply: If landlord fails to return security deposit in compliance with statute, landlord shall be liable for damages equal to twice the sum of the security deposit plus any interest due, less any payments made and any charges owing for damages, unpaid rent, or share of real estate taxes. Landlord shall not be liable if the failure to comply is due to the failure of the tenant to notify the landlord of their new address upon termination of the tenancy. Any deposit and interest remaining unclaimed after six months from termination of tenancy becomes property of the landlord. (§§ 540-A:8)

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent Is Due: Rent payable upon demand, unless otherwise different in a contract. Check your lease terms. (§§ 540:1)
  • Rent Increase Notice: 30 days (§§ 540:2(IV))
  • Rent Grace Period: No statute. Check your lease terms.
  • Late Fees: No statute. Check your lease terms.
  • Application Fees: No statute. Use Cozy to avoid charging application fees because the tenant pays for the credit report directly.
  • Prepaid Rent: No statute
  • Returned Check Fees: Issuer must pay the amount of the check, together with all costs and protest fees within 14 days after having received notice that payment was refused. If payment is not made in full within 14 days, it could be considered a felony. (§§ 638:4(III) and (IV))
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): If landlord tries to evict for nonpayment of rent and the premises are in violation of health and safety codes materially affecting habitability, tenant may block the eviction by proving that, while not in arrears in rent, notice of the violation was given and the landlord failed to correct the violations within 14 days. Other stipulations apply, read §§ 540:13(d) for more information.
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No statute
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: Yes (§§ 358-A:10)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: No statute
  • Abandonment/Early Termination Fee: No statute

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: 30 days (§§ 540:3(II))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Yearly Lease with No End Date: 30 days (§§ 540:3(II))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 30 days (§§ 540:3(II))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: 30 days (§§ 540:3(II))
  • Termination of Tenancy with 24 Hours Notice: No statute
  • Notice of Termination of Lease for Nonpayment: 7 days. (§§ 540:3(II)) Tenant may remedy the situation by paying rent in full within 7 days, plus $15 and other damages, but may not use this action more than three times in a 12-month period. (§§ 540:9)
  • Termination for Lease Violation: 30 days (§§ 540:3(II))
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
  • Required Notice before Entry: Whatever is adequate under the circumstances. (§§ 540-A:3(V)) I recommend giving at least 24 hours notice.
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Allowed (§§ 540-A:3(V))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Allowed (§§ 540-A:3(V))
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Allowed (§§ 540-A:3(IV))
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (§§ 540-A:3(II))
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (§§ 540-A:3(I))
  • Penalty for Self-Help Eviction: $1000 or actual damages, whichever is greater. If self-help eviction was a willful or knowing violation, the fine could be three times (3x) the damages. (§§ 358-A:10)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Minimum Standards of Habitability: Landlord must not lease a unit with any of the following issues: (§§ 48-A:14)
    • It is infested by pests and the landlord does not conduct regular inspections and pest exterminations;
    • There is defective plumbing or faulty septic/sewage system;
    • There is unsafe wiring;
    • The walls or roof leak;
    • The plaster is falling from walls and ceilings;
    • The floors, walls or ceilings have unsafe holes;
    • The porches, stairs or railings are not sound;
    • There is trash and garbage in the common areas when the landlord has the responsibility for trash removal;
    • There is not enough water or the hot water system does not work;
    • The gas lines leak or pilot lights are faulty;
    • The heating system is not working properly.
  • Quite Enjoyment: Landlord shall not willfully violate a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment. (§§ 540-A:2)
  • Infestations & Pest Treatment: Landlord must investigate a tenant’s report of an infestation of insects, including bed bugs, or rodents in the premises within seven days of notice of alleged infestation from the tenant or a municipal health or housing code authority, and take reasonable measures to remediate an infestation. (§§ 540-A:3(V-a))
  • Tenant’s Duties: No statute, but the generally accepted responsibilities are:
    • Compliance: Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
    • Cleanliness: Keep the premises that tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit;
    • Trash: Dispose of all garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
    • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
    • Appliances: Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises;
    • Lawful Activity: Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so; and
    • Quiet Enjoyment: Conduct himself and require other persons on the premises with tenant consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
  • Domestic Violence Situations: The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and An Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection provide information on hotlines and crisis centers statewide.
    • Proof of Status: A landlord can require proof of the protective court order establishing the tenant as a victim of domestic violence. (§§ 540-2(VII)(a))
    • Protection from Termination: The victim of domestic violence is protected from lease termination, unless the tenant fails to pay rent. (§§ 540-2(VII))
    • Locks: At the request and expense of the tenant, the landlord must replace/re-key the locks (§§ 540-2(VII)(b))
  • Retaliation: Unless the tenant owe 1 week’s worth of rent or more, the landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, or has been involved in a tenant’s organization. Retaliation will be assumed for 6 months after the event. Other actions are prohibited. Read §§ 540:13-a and §§ 540:13-b for more information.
  • Lead Disclosure:  Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
  • Abandonment of Personal Property: A landlord shall maintain and exercise reasonable care in the storage of the personal property of a tenant who has vacated the premises, either voluntarily or by eviction, for a period of 7 days after the date upon which such tenant has vacated. During this period, the tenant shall be allowed to recover personal property without payment of rent or storage fees. After the 7-day limit has expired, such personal property may be disposed of by the landlord without notice to the tenant. (§§ 540-A:3(VII))

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority. For example, Manchester requires all residential rental property to have a Certificate of Compliance in accordance with the housing code.
  • Registration Requirements: An owner, within 30 days of becoming the owner, must file a statement with the town or city clerk, the name and contact information of a person within the state who is authorized to accept service of process for any legal proceeding brought against the owner relating to the restricted property. Such person authorized to accept service may be the owner of the premises. (§§ 540:1(b))
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151 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Brent Trombly

    I just signed a lease in Pembroke NH. My new LL is telling me that I have to pay for water and sewer costs. Isn’t a LL suppose to pay for water and sewer costs?? He said that he gets a bill every three months for water and sewer. Wouldn’t that cost be covered in my monthly rent payment??
    Is he allowed to charge me for this every 3 months separately on top of my monthly rent payment????

    • Upnorth

      Not sure what difference it makes in the long run. You can either to pay higher rent and share the risk of over- or under-use of your water, or you can pay the quarterly amount being billed for your use. NH doesn’t legislate it one way or the other. However, if the ad or your lease doesn’t mention this “added” cost, you can certainly discuss with your new LL about why they believe you may now be charged for something you didn’t clearly agree to. Of course, if they mistakenly believed “it was on top of the rent”, and you simply refuse to pay, you may permanently spoil the relationship (i.e., they starting looking for ways to get rid of you). You might try negotiating something mutually acceptable and have a nice long stay.

    • Upnorth

      Also, NH statutes do allow municipalities to modify certain requirements of rental housing, so you may want to check with your town administrators about whether there are pertinent ordinances.

    • Michelle Talbot

      LL must disclose all required costs/fees to a tenant b4 tenant signs the lease ..READ the lease in its entirety before signing ..LL cannot add to your rent without giving you 60 days notice therefore if the water and sewer bill was not included/listed as part of the amount of rent and/or any other expemses your required to oay IN YOUR LEASE then the expense (water and sewer bill) is the LLs resposibility not the tenants..LL CANNOT MAKE YOU PAY FOR THINGS NOT LISTED IN YOUR LEASE

      • Upnorth

        You also cannot force your landlord to give you things for which they are not obligated (by law nor lease) and for which you refuse to pay.

        • Michelle Talbot

          Lolol… no but water and sewer are not “Extras” by law a home/apt cannot be rented without these essentials …If renting a single family home a tenant can be required to pay for the quarterly W&S bills but unless each apartment has its own meter (s) the LL cannot require a tenant to pay W&S By law, any form of rented housing all expenses the tenant is required to pay for must be listed in the lease …The LL is obligated to disclose any expenses and rent amount in a lease and if the LL does not follow this law the tensnt is not obligated to pay anymore than is stated in the lease.

          • Upnorth

            The question isn’t whether a home has water and sewer. The question is whether the LL or the tenant pays for it. Not all rentals have water or sewer services that are billed separately to anyone (e.g., private wells, septic). Apparently, Brent’s new place in Pembroke gets billed for such things. We’re not in a position to guess what additional expenses might be “disclosed” in his lease, but at least now he knows that’s the first place to look for an answer.

  • Abe

    Hi,
    can a N.H. landlord deduct late fees, as noted in the lease, from a rental deposit?

    • Michelle Talbot

      If the tenant is evicted/or moving of their own volition then any fees due the landlord (late fees etc)can be deducted from the security deposit ..you must give a statement itemizing deductions to tenant with any balance to be returned or not returned. But you cannot deducted late fees from security deposit if tenant is still in resident.

  • Shannon

    My boyfriend moved in with me in May, he is not on the lease. Is he now considered a tenant? My landlord is trying to tell me verbally he has to leave after meeting him and knowing he lives with me.

    • Tom

      If he is not on the lease then he is not a tenant and can not live there unless the lease states otherwise.

    • Michelle Talbot

      What does your lease state in reference to additional people and/or guests?….Usually guests are allowed to visit for a period of up to 2 weeks then must be added to the lease . usually an application with a background check and Employment information is required

    • Upnorth

      If he’s living there, with your permission and with no intent to live elsewhere, then he is (in legal terms) a “resident”. Your lease may include restrictions (or prohibitions) with regard to third-party sublets or transfers. If so, you should ask him to leave, if the landlord doesn’t want to add him to your lease. You can be served with a written notice to “cure or quit”. That would mean you are given the choice to either obey the lease or it will be terminated. If you fail to do either, within the specified time (e.g., 30 days), the next step is for the landlord to start the court eviction process by filing a writ and having you served with that. If your lease talks about sublets, you need to follow whatever provisions you agreed to.

  • Douglas

    Signed a year lease. Lease ran out last year, month to month since. We are excellent tenants with no interactions with LL outside of regular payment. Was notified out of the blue today the house was sold and need to be out in 3 months. Question: am I required to be notified of home being placed for sale? We would have bought the home. Single family home, LL has multiple properties. Any info welcome, I’m not good with legalese.

  • Upnorth

    Unless you had some sort of “option to purchase” or “right of first refusal”, the landlord doesn’t owe you any “notice” that the property is being sold. As for three months notice of termination, that is quite generous for a month-to-month tenant.

    • Douglas

      This is what I figured. Everywhere I look this guy is in the right. I just can’t believe in good conscience that this guy is ok with uprooting a family of 4 out of the blue with little notice, before Christmas. Especially when we’ve offered to buy the house (and can) many times. I suppose I know I’m owed nothing, but man, “hey I’m thinking about selling” or “ are you interested in buying” or “I put the house up for sale” would have been nice. Not “it’s sold get out”. Anyway, thanks.

      • Upnorth

        Fact they didn’t offer another one-year lease might have been a subtle indicator that they were hedging.

        • Doug

          Yeah fair, but a family with toddlers enters your rental, says it’s awesome and want to buy, but renting makes more sense to you. I engage in rental deal, and we are model tenants for 1.5 years. You decide to sell and, well, a good cash deal (or family offer) comes in and – screw it, put the kids on the street for this cash right in time for Christmas. That’s what it is. Lack of general morality. Three months is an amazing (sarcasm) amount of time for an established family that made it clear upon renting they would buy whenever ready.

          Here it comes: ReAd YoUr LeAse… thanks all for your advice.

  • Marie

    Five months ago I rented a one bedroom with 3 season porch.
    Son returned from Finland w/Masters degree 3 mo ago.
    Visa ran out, returned to US and is agressively looking for Company to sponsor him to go back ASAP
    I am only family he can stay with. Put a daybed porch and when it gets cold he can sleep on couch. It is cozy buy very neat, clean and we are very quite . (3 unit building). Extra car we have borrowed is parked on city property across the road.
    Landlord upset he is still there on his “visit” and said the intention was only to rent to one person. I am a mother and can’t kick him out. He house/pets sits any chance he gets.
    I have limited budget but could I offer to pay a little extra?
    Can I get evicted? Help for single mom?

  • Dave

    Have a friend who needed a place to stay for a couple weeks. I don’t have an extra bedroom, so he is in my den. He gives me money to help with utilities. He is now my tenant, or still a guest?

    • Upnorth

      By definition, paying money in exchange for a place to stay/live is a “rental agreement” (i.e., “if you buy the groceries/utilities, I will let you live in my spare room”). What you do with the money (pay utilities) isn’t the point. Under NH law, for purpose of “eviction”, “The term ‘tenant’ or “tenancy” shall not include occupants or occupancy in … A single-family home in which the occupant has no lease, which is the primary and usual residence of the owner. ” RSA 540:1-a,IV. However, for purpose of rights: “Tenant” means a person to whom a landlord rents or leases residential premises.” RSA 540-A:1,II.

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