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TITLE 55
Proceedings in Special Cases
CHAPTER 540A
Prohibited Practices and Security Deposits

Definitions:  As used in this subdivision:
I. "Landlord" means an owner, lessor or agent thereof who rents or leases residential premises including manufactured housing or space in a manufactured housing park to another person.
II. "Tenant" means a person to whom a landlord rents or leases residential premises, including manufactured housing or a space in a manufactured housing park.
III. "Premises" means the part of the landlord's property to which the tenant is entitled exclusive access for living or storage as a result of the rental or lease agreement.  540-A:1

General Prohibition:  No landlord shall willfully violate a tenant's right to quiet enjoyment of his tenancy or attempt to circumvent lawful procedures for eviction pursuant to RSA 540. No tenant shall willfully damage the property of the landlord or prevent completion of necessary repairs or willfully deny tenants their right to quiet enjoyment of their tenancies.  540-A:2

Certain Specific Acts Prohibited:
I. No landlord shall willfully cause, directly or indirectly, the  interruption or termination of any utility service being supplied to the tenant including, but not limited to water, heat, light, electricity, gas, telephone, sewerage, elevator or refrigeration, whether or not the utility service is under the control of the landlord, except for such temporary
interruption as may be necessary while actual repairs are in process or during temporary emergencies.
II. No landlord shall willfully seize, hold, or otherwise directly or indirectly deny a tenant access to and possession of such tenant's rented or leased premises, other than through proper judicial process.
III. No landlord shall willfully seize, hold, or otherwise directly or indirectly deny a tenant access to and possession of such tenant's property, other than by proper judicial process.
IV. No landlord shall willfully enter into the premises of the tenant without prior consent, other than to make emergency repairs.
V. No tenant shall willfully refuse the landlord access to the premises to make necessary repairs at a reasonable time after notice which is adequate under the circumstances.
VI. No tenant shall willfully damage the property of the landlord.
VII. A landlord shall maintain and exercise reasonable care in the storage of the personal property of a tenant who has vacated the premises, either voluntarily or by eviction, for a period of 45 days after the date upon which such tenant has vacated. After the 45-day limit has expired, such personal property may be disposed of by the landlord without notice to the tenant.
VII. A landlord shall maintain and exercise reasonable care in the storage of the personal property of a tenant who has vacated the premises, either voluntarily or by eviction, for a period of 28 days after the date upon which such tenant has vacated. During this period, the tenant shall be allowed to recover personal property without payment of rent or storage fees. After the 28-day limit has expired, such personal property may be disposed of by the landlord without notice to the tenant.  540-A:3

Remedies:
I. All district courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the superior court to enforce the provisions of RSA 540-A:2 and RSA 540-A:3.
II. Any tenant or landlord may seek relief from a violation of RSA 540-A:2 or RSA 540-A:3 by filing a petition in the district or county where the rental premises are located.
III. No filing fee shall be charged for a petition under paragraph II, and the plaintiff may proceed without legal counsel. Either a peace officer or the sheriff's department shall serve process under this section and the cost of such service shall be billed as directed by the court pursuant to
paragraph X. Any proceeding under this subdivision shall not preclude any other available civil or criminal remedy.
IV. The clerks of the district courts shall supply forms for petitions for relief under this subdivision designed to facilitate proceedings.
V. The findings of facts shall be final but questions of law may be transferred to the supreme court in the same manner as from the superior court.
VI. The court shall hold a hearing within 30 days of the filing of a petition under paragraph II or within 10 days of service of process upon the defendant, whichever occurs later.
VII. Upon a showing of a violation of RSA 540-A:2 or RSA 540-A:3, I, II, or III, the court shall grant such relief as is necessary to protect the rights of the parties. Such relief may include:
(a) An order prohibiting the defendant from continuing the activity or activities which violate RSA 540-A:2 or RSA 540-A:3; and
(b) An award of damages to the plaintiff for the violations of RSA 540-A, breach of warranty of habitability, breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment or any other claim arising out of the facts alleged in the plaintiff's petition.
VIII. Upon the showing of an immediate threat of irreparable harm, the court may issue such temporary orders as it deems necessary to protect the parties with or without actual notice to the defendant. If temporary orders are made ex parte, the party against whom such relief is issued may file a written request with the clerk of the court and request a hearing on such request. Such hearing shall be held no later than 5 days after the request is received by the clerk. Such hearings
may constitute the final hearing described in paragraph VI.
IX. Any landlord or tenant who violates RSA 540-A:2 or any provision of RSA 540-A:3 shall be subject to the civil remedies set forth in RSA 358-A:10, including costs and reasonable attorney's fees incurred in the proceedings. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate
violation.
X. If an action initiated under RSA 540-A:3 is found to be frivolous or brought solely for harassment, the plaintiff shall pay to the defendant the costs of said action including reasonable attorney's fees. If such frivolous action was brought by the tenant, he shall not be entitled to the
protection of paragraph XI of this section.
XI. No action for possession may be maintained by the landlord against a tenant who proves a violation of RSA 540-A:3 except for nonpayment of rent, violation of a substantial obligation of the rental agreement or lease, or violation of this subdivision within 6 months of an action instituted under this subdivision by a tenant; nor shall the landlord take any other action in reprisal.   540-A:4

Definitions:  As used in this subdivision:
I. "Landlord" means a person and his or its employees, officers or agents who rents or leases to another person a rental unit, including space in a manufactured housing park as regulated by RSA 205-A and in manufactured housing, for other than vacation or recreational purposes. A person who rents or leases a single family residence and owns no other rental property or who rents or leases rental units in an owner-occupied building of 5 units or less shall not be considered a "landlord" for the purposes of this subdivision, except for any individual unit in such building which is
occupied by a person or persons 60 years of age or older.
II. "Security deposit" means all funds in excess of the monthly rent which are transferred from the tenant to the landlord for any purpose.
III. "Tenant" means any person who rents or leases residential premises owned by another, including space in a manufactured housing park regulated by RSA 205-A and in manufactured
housing, for other than vacation or recreational purposes.
IV. "Rental unit" means each separate part of any residential premises which has full facilities for habitation, including contiguous living, sleeping, kitchen and bathroom facilities, which is held out for rental by the landlord.  540-A:5
 

Procedure:
I. A landlord shall not demand or receive any security deposit in an amount or value in excess of one month's rent or $100, whichever is greater. Upon receiving a deposit from a tenant, a landlord shall forthwith deliver to the tenant a signed receipt stating the amount of the deposit and specifying the place where the deposit or bond for the deposit pursuant to RSA 540-A:6, II(c) will be held, and shall notify the tenant that any conditions in the rental unit in need of repair or correction should be noted on the receipt or given to the landlord in writing within 5 days of occupancy.
II. (a) Security deposits held by a landlord continue to be the money of the tenant and shall be held in trust by the person with whom such deposit is made and shall not be mingled with the personal moneys or become an asset of the landlord until the provisions of RSA 540-A:7 are complied with, but may be disposed of as provided in RSA 540-A:6, III.
(b) A landlord may mingle all security deposits held by him in a single account held in trust for the tenant at any bank, savings and loan association or credit union organized under the laws of this state in satisfaction of the requirements of RSA 540-A:6, II(a).
(c) A bond written by a company located in New Hampshire and posted with the clerk of the city or town in which the residential premises are located in an amount equivalent to the total value of a security deposit held by the landlord on property in that city or town shall exempt the landlord from
the provisions of RSA 540-A:6, II(a) and (b).
III. (a) Any landlord who holds a security deposit shall turn  the security deposit over at the time of delivery of the deed or instrument of assignment, or within 5 days thereafter, or within 5 days after a receiver has been qualified, to one of the following:
(1) his grantee upon conveying the premises in which the rental unit is located;
(2) his assignee upon assigning his lease to the rental unit;
(3) the receiver in a foreclosure action or other lien of record affecting the property in which the rental unit is located, upon the judicial appointment and qualification of the receiver; or
(4) the purchaser at a foreclosure sale or other lien of record, if a receiver has not been qualified, upon the conveyance to another person by the referee of the property in which the rental unit is located.
(b) The landlord shall notify the tenant by registered or certified mail of such turning over, including the name and address of the grantee, assignee, purchaser, or receiver who then holds the security deposit.
(c) Any landlord who turns over to his grantee, his assignee, a purchaser at a foreclosure sale, or the receiver in a foreclosure action the amount of such security deposit with interest due, if any, is thereby relieved of liability to the tenant for repayment of the deposit. The transferee of the
security deposit is then responsible for the return of the security deposit to the tenant or licensee, unless, before the expiration of the term of the tenant's lease or licensee's agreement, he transfers the security deposit to another, pursuant to RSA 540-A:6, III(a) and gives the requisite notice
pursuant to RSA 540-A:6, III(b). A receiver shall hold the security subject to its disposition as provided in an order of the court to be made and entered in the foreclosure action.
(d) RSA 540-A:6, III(c) shall not apply if there is an inconsistent agreement between the landlord and tenant or licensee.
IV. (a) A landlord who holds a security deposit for a period of one year or longer shall pay to the tenant interest on the deposit at a rate equal to the interest rate paid on regular savings accounts in the New Hampshire bank, savings and loan association, or credit union in which it is deposited,
commencing from the date the landlord receives the deposit or from September 13, 1977, whichever is later. If a landlord mingles security deposits in a single account under RSA 540-A:6, II(b), the landlord shall pay the actual interest earned on such account proportionately to each tenant.
(b) Upon request, a landlord shall provide to the tenant the name of any bank, savings and loan association, or credit union where his security deposit is on deposit, the account number, the amount on deposit, and the interest rate on the deposit and shall allow the tenant to examine his security
deposit records.
(c) Notwithstanding RSA 540-A:7, I, a tenant may request the interest accrued on a security deposit every 3 years, 30 days before the expiration of that year's tenancy. The landlord shall comply with the request within 15 days of the expiration of that year's tenancy.  540-A:6

Return of Security Deposit:
I. Except as provided in RSA 540-A:6, IV(c), a landlord shall return a security deposit to a tenant and pay the interest due, if any, within 30 days from the termination of the tenancy. If there are any damages to the premises, excluding reasonable wear and tear, the landlord may deduct the costs of repair from the security deposit. The landlord shall provide the tenant with a written, itemized list of any damages for which the landlord claims the tenant is liable, which shall indicate with particularity the nature of any repair necessary to correct any damage and satisfactory evidence that repair necessary to correct these
damages has been or will be completed. Satisfactory evidence may include, but not be limited to, receipts for purchased repair materials and labor estimates, bills or invoices indicating the actual or estimated cost thereof.
II. If the tenant is required under the lease agreement to pay all or part of any increase in real estate taxes levied against the property and becoming due and payable during the term of the lease, or if there is unpaid rent due, the landlord may deduct such share of real estate taxes or unpaid rent from the amount of the security deposit. The landlord shall provide the tenant with a written, itemized list of any claim for unpaid rent or share of real estate taxes for which the landlord claims the tenant is liable, which shall indicate with particularity the period for which the claim is being
made.  540-A:7

540-A:8   I. (a) Any landlord who does not comply with RSA 540-A:6, I, II or III shall be deemed to have violated RSA 358-A:2.
(b) Any landlord who does not comply with RSA 540-A:6, IV or RSA 540-A:7 shall be liable to the tenant in damages in an amount equal to twice the sum of the amount of the security deposit plus any interest due under this subdivision, less any payments made and any charges owing for damages, unpaid rent, or share of real estate taxes as specified in RSA 540-A:7.
II. Notwithstanding RSA 540-A:6, 540-A:7, and 540-A:8, I, a landlord shall not be liable nor forfeit any rights if his failure to comply with said sections and paragraph is due to the failure of the tenant to notify the landlord of his new address upon termination of the tenancy. Any deposits plus
interest due on the deposit that remain unclaimed after 6 months from the termination of the tenancy shall become the property of the landlord, free and clear of any claim of the tenant, absent fraud.
III. Any provision in any lease or rental agreement by which the tenant is purported to waive any of his rights under this subdivision, except as provided in RSA 540-A:6, III(d), shall be void.  540-A:8                                

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