New Hampshire enacts new eviction protections

By Christian Wade | The Center Square

The law, signed by Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday, will prevent landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment if they have paid or have qualified for emergency rental assistance.

Under the new requirements, an approved application for rental assistance will be counted as a payment toward rent and prevent the tenant from being evicted.

The move comes as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide eviction ban is set to expire on Sunday, with no indication from the Biden administration that it will be extended.

The New Hampshire Union-Leader newspaper reported on Tuesday that the state’s courts are working to spread the word about emergency protections for renters who are at risk of being evicted beginning next week, when at least 700 eviction cases that have been on hold are expected to resume in the courts.

The courts will post signs around courthouses about the rental assistance program and provide informational postcards to people involved in eviction cases, the newspaper reported.

“It’s a little outside what we normally do,” Circuit Court Judge David King told the newspaper, noting the courts’ otherwise neutral stance in landlord-tenant disputes. “But the great thing about the emergency rental assistance is it benefits landlords and tenants.”

The expiration of the CDC’s moratorium has housing advocates worried about a surge in landlords forcing out tenants who have fallen behind on rent.

In March, an estimated 6.4 million households were behind on their rent, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As of last month, more than 3.2 million people said they faced eviction in the next two months with protections expiring, according to a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The federal government has distributed billions of dollars to states in pandemic relief packages to help prevent people from being evicted.

In March, the Sununu administration created the New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program with about $20 million in federal funding from the latest stimulus package.

Renters are eligible for relief through the state’s program if their household income is below 80% of the area median income, someone in the residence is collecting unemployment benefits, if they’ve lost income or experienced financial hardship because of the pandemic, or are at risk of being evicted.

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