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UPDATE: More Than Half of N.H. Counties Now Covered by New CDC Eviction Moratorium

Mark Moz via Flickr CC

This post has been updated several times to reflect changes in where the moratorium applies.

New Hampshire is pausing some eviction cases in Belknap, Cheshire, Coos, Grafton, Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford Counties to comply with a new eviction moratorium from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ongoing updates about where the moratorium applies will be posted on the New Hampshire Judicial Branch website.

But there are several caveats. Tenants are only protected in cases involving nonpayment of rent, and only if they file paperwork stating that they’re seeking protection under the CDC’s moratorium.

The extension applies only through Oct. 3, 2021, and only in limited circumstances. It could provide a grace period for thousands of renters who are awaiting a decision on their pending applications for emergency rental assistance.

Just a few days after its original eviction ban lapsed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a ban on evictions in counties with substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission. As of Wednesday morning, that included Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford Counties in New Hampshire — though Belknap, Cheshire, Coos and Grafton Counties were added later this week after they also began seeing more substantial transmission of the disease.

The New Hampshire Judicial Branch said “all other courts [outside Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford Counties] will continue processing and holding hearings in all landlord-tenant cases,” but the courts would continue to monitor conditions around COVID-19 “and change practice as needed.”

The judicial branch also emphasized that the moratorium only applies in limited circumstances: It only extends to cases covered by the CDC moratorium, and it only applies when tenants “provide a declaration in compliance with the CDC order to their landlord.” If someone has already filed that declaration, they don’t need to provide a new one.

It’s unclear exactly how many renters in New Hampshire might be spared by the CDC’s new protections, but a new analysis suggests that more than one in 10 renters in the affected counties could be behind on their rent. Estimates compiled by Surgo Ventures suggest that about 13% of renters in Hillsborough County, and about 11% in Rockingham and Strafford Counties, owe rent.

While not covered by the new eviction moratorium at this time because of lower levels of COVID-19, Belknap and Carroll Counties are also home to an estimated 11% of households who owe back rent.

The newly issued eviction protections did appear to provide some additional reprieve for a few tenants facing the threat of removal from their homes at Manchester Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon.

Several tenants before the court said they applied for emergency rental assistance but were still awaiting a response on their applications. One tenant and his property manager agreed to work out a payment plan. Another tenant said her landlord hadn’t submitted required paperwork, but the landlord claimed he never received that request; her case is on hold, and the judge encouraged her to follow up with the landlord to ensure he has the forms required to process her application for assistance.

Judge Kimberly Chabot, presiding over the eviction hearings in Manchester Circuit Court on Wednesday afternoon, encouraged several of the tenants facing eviction for nonpayment to stay on top of their requests for rental assistance.

“Maximize on the resources that are being made available out there, and hopefully that will resolve things,” Chabot told one tenant.

Casey McDermott is a senior news editor at New Hampshire Public Radio. Throughout her time as an NHPR reporter and editor, she has worked with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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