Bill would force NH owners to give more notice before certain types of evictions

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New Hampshire tenants facing eviction because their landlords want to repair, renovate or sell the property would have more time to find new homes under a proposal submitted for State House review this year.

At present, New Hampshire law does not clearly spell out the regulations for these kinds of evictions. Landlords who claim they need to do construction or put their home on the market often file an eviction under a catch-all category, “other good cause,” which gives tenants 30 days to move out.

A bill supported by a group of House and Senate Democrats would add new categories to the state eviction law requiring homeowners wishing to go down this route to certify that they are planning to either sell their property or make “substantial renovations” or pursue repairs that “do not can be done safely while the tenant resides in the premises ”.

The bill would also give tenants facing eviction for any of these reasons 90 days to find new accommodation, instead of the 30 days they are usually given now – unless the landlord has received the order to resolve a safety problem and that such repairs cannot be made. be postponed, in which case the 30 day notice would still apply.

Portsmouth Senator Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, the bill’s main sponsor, said she hoped that clearly defining the terms of such evictions would also be beneficial – and help protect tenants from situations where a landlord might cite a desire to renovate but has no actual renovations planned.

“It’s valid if they’re actually going to improve the house,” said Perkins Kwoka. “But it certainly shouldn’t be just so that we can find different tenants or raise the rent – which doesn’t mean that’s what landlords do. But by having that in law, we’re just providing additional protection that you know tenants can trust the process. “

Housing advocates say the need for greater protection against these kinds of evictions is urgent. Over the past year, local media have highlighted stories of people facing evictions due to renovations (or rent increases linked to renovations) in Dover, Penacook, Peterborough and Keene.

Elliott Berry, co-director of the Housing Justice Project at New Hampshire Legal Assistance, said his team had also seen a significant increase in calls from people facing eviction because their landlord wanted to renovate or sell their home.

He said the most important thing is that tenants have more time to deal with these evictions because it is difficult for anyone to get a new apartment in the state. difficult rental market.

“It has nothing to do with anything the tenant did wrong,” Berry said. “This is their home. And if they are to be moved through no fault of their own, they need to have more time. Otherwise, too many people will end up homeless. “

Perkins Kwoka said she was encouraged by the willingness of landlords to work with her and other colleagues on various tenant protections passed over the past year and looks forward to continuing to build consensus on this legislation.

“I hope we can have a productive relationship with the owners again this year on this bill, I look forward to their comments,” she said. “The intention is simply to make sure that landlords and tenants are treated fairly. “


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