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Facing Eviction for Nonpayment in N.H.? You Now Have More Time to Repay Before Losing Your Place

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New Hampshire renters facing eviction over nonpayment of rent have more time to pay what they owe before they lose their apartments. The change in policy has arrived just in time to provide some potential reprieve before a federal ban on evictions expires at the end of this month.

Under a bipartisan package of new renter protections signed into state law last week, tenants who’ve been served an eviction notice now have until the date of their eviction hearing to repay their debt to their landlord. The total could include court filing fees and service charges, depending on how soon they make that repayment. If a tenant is able to come up with those payments before their eviction hearing, they can stay in their apartment.

As New Hampshire Legal Assistance Director of Housing Justice Elliott Berry explained during a hearing on the issue earlier this year, the law previously gave tenants only seven days to make their landlords whole after receiving an eviction notice for nonpayment. If they didn’t pay within seven days, Berry said the previous version of the law provided “no right to pay and stay.”

“This will provide the tenant with the time they need, even when COVID is over,” Berry said during his testimony. “Local welfare administrators and charities will get much more time to deal with these emergency situations.”

The new changes also have the support of one statewide group representing landlords and property managers.

“If the tenant makes the landlord whole by the time of the hearing, it’s totally reasonable that they would stay in their location,” Nick Norman, with the Apartment Association of New Hampshire, said during earlier legislative hearings.

The new law could also make it easier for people to request rental assistance from local welfare offices. It explicitly bans local welfare offices from requiring someone to show proof of an eviction notice before receiving rental aid. It’s not clear how many welfare agencies were requiring this kind of proof as part of their screening process, but supporters of the change said it would help to clarify what was already common practice by many of those offices.

The law says an eviction notice might still be required to help applicants show their level of need or to make referrals for other kinds of assistance.

Applications are still open for New Hampshire’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is designed to help people who are at risk of homelessness or housing instability with rent or utility payments. You can apply for the assistance online at CAPNH.org or by mailing in a printed copy of this application.

More than 9,400 people applied for the program, but less than half of them have received payment as of July 20, according to data provided to NHPR in response to a public records request. The program has distributed more than $28 million to about 4,000 households across the state.

NHPR Reporter Daniela Allee contributed to this story.

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