SB377 (2010) Detail

Relative to landlord remedies when tenants abandon property.






AN ACT relative to landlord remedies when tenants abandon property.

SPONSORS: Sen. Gallus, Dist 1

COMMITTEE: Judiciary


This bill establishes a procedure and timeline for determining that a dwelling unit has been abandoned and for returning or disposing of any personal property left by the prior tenant.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten

AN ACT relative to landlord remedies when tenants abandon property.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Section; Actions Against Tenants; Abandoned Property. Amend RSA 540 by inserting after section 29 the following new paragraph:

540:30 Abandonment; Notice; Remedies; Personal Property.

I. In this section, “abandonment” means either the absence of the tenant from the dwelling unit, without notice to the landlord for at least 7 days, if rent for the dwelling unit is outstanding and unpaid for 10 days and there is no reasonable evidence other than the presence of the tenant’s personal property that the tenant is occupying the residence or the absence of the tenant for at least 5 days, if the rent for the dwelling unit is outstanding and unpaid for 5 days and none of the tenant’s personal property is in the dwelling unit.

II. If a dwelling unit is abandoned after the time prescribed in paragraph I, the landlord shall send the tenant a notice of abandonment by certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the tenant’s last known address and to any of the tenant’s alternate addresses known to the landlord. The landlord shall also post a notice of abandonment on the door to the dwelling unit or any other conspicuous place on the property for 5 days.

III. Five days after notice of abandonment has been both posted and mailed, the landlord may retake the dwelling unit and rerent the dwelling unit at a fair rental value if no personal property remains in the dwelling unit. After the landlord retakes the dwelling unit, money held by the landlord as a security deposit is forfeited and shall be applied to the payment of any accrued rent and other reasonable costs incurred by the landlord by reason of the tenant’s abandonment.

IV. If the tenant abandons the dwelling unit, the landlord shall make reasonable efforts to rent it at a fair rental. If the landlord rents the dwelling unit for a term beginning prior to the expiration of the rental agreement, it is deemed to be terminated as of the date the new tenancy begins. If the landlord fails to use reasonable efforts to rent the dwelling unit at a fair rental or if the landlord accepts the abandonment as a surrender, the rental agreement is deemed to be terminated by the landlord as of the date the landlord has notice of the abandonment. If the tenancy is from month to month or week to week, the term of the rental agreement for this purpose shall be deemed to be a month or a week, as the case may be.

V. After the landlord has retaken possession of the dwelling unit, the landlord may store the tenant’s personal possessions in the unoccupied dwelling unit that was abandoned by the tenant, in any other available unit or any storage space owned by the landlord or off the premises if a dwelling unit or storage space is not available. The landlord shall notify the tenant of the location of the personal property in the same manner prescribed in paragraph II.

VI. The landlord shall hold the tenant’s personal property for a period of 16 days after the landlord’s declaration of abandonment. The landlord shall use reasonable care in holding the tenant’s personal property. If the landlord holds the property for this period and the tenant makes no reasonable effort to recover it, the landlord may sell the property, retain the proceeds and apply them toward the tenant’s outstanding rent or other costs which are covered in the lease agreement or otherwise provided for in this chapter and have been incurred by the landlord due to the tenant’s abandonment. Any excess proceeds shall be mailed to the tenant at the tenant’s last known address. A tenant does not have any right of access to that property until the actual removal and storage costs have been paid in full, except that the tenant may obtain clothing and the tools, apparatus, and books of a trade or profession and any identification or financial documents, including all those related to the tenant’s immigration status, employment status, public assistance, or medical care. If provided by a written rental agreement, the landlord may destroy or otherwise dispose of some or all of the property if the landlord reasonably determines that the value of the property is so low that the cost of moving, storage, and conducting a public sale exceeds the amount that would be realized from the sale.

VII. For a period of 12 months after the sale the landlord shall:

(a) Keep adequate records of the outstanding and unpaid rent and the sale of the tenant’s personal property.

(b) Hold any excess proceeds which have been returned as undeliverable for the benefit of the tenant.

VIII. If the tenant notifies the landlord in writing on or before the date the landlord sells or otherwise disposes of the personal property that the tenant intends to remove the personal property from the dwelling unit or the place of safekeeping, the tenant shall have 16 days to reclaim the personal property.

IX. In this section, “dwelling unit” shall have the same meaning as restricted property, as defined in RSA 540:1-a, II.

2 Abandoned Property. Amend RSA 540-A:3, VII to read as follows:

VII. Other than residential real estate under RSA 540-B, and except as otherwise provided in RSA 540:30, 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.

3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2011.