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Proposal could give NH landlords more pathways to eviction after a lease ends

A view of a Manchester neighborhood.
Gabriela Lozada
/
NHPR
A view of a Manchester neighborhood.

A proposal at the State House would allow landlords to evict tenants after their lease has expired.

Under current law, landlords can only evict tenants under specific circumstances, like failure to pay rent or substantially damaging the property.

Rep. Bob Lynn, a Republican from Windham and a former chief justice on the New Hampshire Supreme Court, sponsored the bill. He argued it would allow landlords to take “risks” and accept tenants that might have prior evictions or a track record of other issues in previous homes. It ensures a landlord is not “stuck” with a tenant, Lynn said.

But opponents of the bill, like Mary Osborne of Dover, say it could jeopardize housing for vulnerable tenants like herself – a single mother with disabilities who has a son who has functional needs.

“If this bill is approved, it will create an environment where I hesitate to voice concerns to my landlord fearing attention,” Osborne said. “I’ll be reluctant to request repairs and live in perpetual anxiety about the stability of our home.”

Opponents of the bill also raised concerns that it places more power in the landlord’s hands.

Many testifying against the bill say that there are already many grounds for landlords to evict tenants, including for lease violations or illegal activities.

Some also pointed to New Hampshire’s low vacancy rate for rental housing, arguing that it would be hard for people who are evicted to find a new home.

New Hampshire has a 0.6% vacancy rate for two-bedroom apartments and a 0.8% vacancy rate for all units, according to New Hampshire Housing. In the organization’s 2023 residential survey, the median cost for a two bedroom apartment is $1,764.

Opponents to the bill also pointed out that roughly 20% of homes meet the needs of the state's aging population, like having a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor.

Competition for housing has also impacted students and young professionals looking to make New Hampshire home.

Alice House, a student in Durham, told lawmakers during Wednesday’s hearing that the bill could disrupt the stability of residents that have not had any grounds for evictions.

“As an out-of-state student who doesn’t have family to let me move or to stay with if things get rough, and without access to a car consistently, consistent housing is really critical,” House said, “and moving is a task that has to be planned ahead for.”

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Olivia joins us from WLVR/Lehigh Valley Public Media, where she covered the Easton area in eastern Pennsylvania. She has also reported for WUWM in Milwaukee and WBEZ in Chicago.
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