New Hampshire could expand protections for renters

New Hampshire could expand protections for renters

February 23, 2022 0 By Christian Wade

Renters in New Hampshire facing eviction will get an extra month before their landlords can kick them out under a proposal being considered by state lawmakers.

The legislation, which cleared the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, would allow tenants to remain in a rental property for at least 60 days while they look for another place, if their landlord is evicting them to renovate or sell the property. The panel reduced the timeframe from the bill’s original proposal, which had called for a 90 day window.

Under current law, tenants only get 30 days unless they’re being evicted for not paying rent, which only allows for a week.

Backers of the proposal say skyrocketing rental costs – compounded by a shortage of rental properties – means those facing untimely evictions need more time to get up the money.

Advocates like Elliott Berry, director of housing justice at New Hampshire Legal Assistance, said the 30-day window isn’t adequate for evicted tenants to find a new place to live.

“Remember, this is a case when the tenant is at no fault whatsoever,” he told the committee in testimony. “In some cases, you have elderly people who have been living in the apartment for decades who have to find a new place or go through a traumatic eviction process.”

Barry said the legal aid agency is seeing a major spike in evictions over sales and renovations “at a time when people are having an incredibly difficult time finding a place.”

But opponents say the proposal would negatively impact an already tight real estate market by hamstringing property owners who are planning to sell or renovate rental properties.

Chris Norwood, with the New Hampshire Association of Realtors, told the committee recent testimony that landlords often have short windows to have renovation projects done under the terms of loans they used to pay for it. Extending the time for evicting tenants could complicate those financial arrangements, he said.

Nick Norman, a lobbyist with the Apartment Association of New Hampshire, said the proposal would add to the financial stress that is driving “mom and pop” landlords out of businesses.

“That’s a shame because it means another affordable housing property is gone,” he said in testimony. “We need landlords. But anytime you add more barriers you are disincentive property owners from being property owners.”

Norman said he understands that the legislation is being prompted by a shortage of available housing in New Hampshire, which has reached critical proportions in recent years.

“We recognognize there is an affordability issue in the state and we would like the Legislature to help solve it,” he said. “If we had a better supply of housing this would not be an issue.”

This article was originally posted on New Hampshire could expand protections for renters