If you are a landlord in New Hampshire, a recent federal moratorium could significantly impact your ability to evict tenants until the end of the year.
On September 1, 2020, The Center for Disease Control announced a nationwide, four-month moratorium on evicting tenants if they meet specific criteria. The CDC made the move to halt the spread of COVID-19, and it will remain in effect until December 31, 2020.
The eviction moratorium applies to all properties in the United States. An earlier moratorium that was included in COVID relief legislation only banned evictions in federally-financed buildings.
In New Hampshire, a state eviction ban ended on July 1, and landlord-tenant writs, the first step in evictions, had begun again.
How the moratorium will work
To qualify not to be evicted, the criteria for tenants include:
- Lost income during the pandemic
- Demonstrate that they cannot pay their full rent
- Offer to make partial payments
- Used their “best efforts” to apply for all governmental housing aid
- Would face homelessness or have to stay in unsafe, crowded living conditions
- Do not earn more than $99,000 for single people, and twice that for couples who file joint tax returns
- Must deliver a signed declaration to the landlord
Landlords can face stiff fines if they are found to violate the moratorium. Individual landlords will be fined up to $100,000. Corporate landlords can face fines up to $250,000 for doing so.
The rent is still due
Once the moratorium is over, a tenant will owe the landlord all the rent from any missed months. A critical component of the moratorium is that renters are still expected to pay the rent or attempt to pay it during this time. “Nothing in this order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract,” according to the CDC order.
Despite the moratorium’s criteria, landlords can still try to start eviction proceedings if they feel the tenant does not meet the CDC guidelines. In that situation, the landlord can bring proceedings in a New Hampshire housing court. Landlords can also bring proceedings against a tenant if they are worried about their own health.
Impact on landlords
Landlords with non-paying tenants are in a challenging position. While they can bring eviction proceedings, it will require more work and possibly a housing lawyer to help them in proceedings.
The moratorium will also potentially cause foreclosures, as landlords have to pay mortgages, taxes and other bills between now and December 31, 2020. And how the CDC moratorium will be enforced is also unknown. It’s expected there will be legal challenges in any number of states.