HB 413 – FINAL VERSION
HOUSE BILL 413
AN ACT relative to property abandoned by tenants.
This bill provides that, under certain circumstances and if the landlord has provided the tenant with a notice of property abandonment, the landlord may assert that tenant has relinquished possession or abandoned the premises.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Thirteen
AN ACT relative to property abandoned by tenants.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
237:1 New Paragraph; Landlord Defense; Property Relinquished or Abandoned by Tenant. Amend RSA 540-A:4 by inserting after paragraph XI the following new paragraph:
XII. Relinquishment of possession or abandonment of possession shall be an affirmative defense to an action brought pursuant to this chapter.
(a) Relinquishment of possession occurs when the landlord receives a statement signed by each adult tenant of a rented or leased premises stating that the tenant has relinquished possession of the rented or leased premises and has no intent to return.
(b) Abandonment of possession means all tenants have physically vacated the premises without the intent to return. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the tenants have abandoned the premises if:
(1) The landlord provided all tenants with a written property abandonment notice, by leaving the notice at the rented or leased premises and by sending the notice by certified mail to the last known address of at least one adult tenant. The property abandonment notice shall also comply with subparagraph (d); and
(2) At least 2 of the following conditions were present:
(A) All adult tenants of the rented or leased premises have notified the landlord in writing of their intent to vacate the premises by a certain date and that date has passed, provided that the written notice of one adult tenant who has lawful possession to the premises pursuant to an order under RSA 173-B shall suffice.
(B) All keys to the rented or leased premises have been returned to the landlord, which shall include leaving all keys in the rented or leased premises.
(C) The tenant or tenants have removed from the rented or leased premises all or the majority of their personal property, and the only items remaining in the premises are inconsistent with the continued use of the premises.
(D) The tenant or tenants have failed or neglected to pay rent for the rented or leased premises for a period of more than 91 days, provided that during those 91 days the landlord, if requested to do so, provided ordinary and reasonable verification of rental information to any agency assisting the tenant or tenants, and that the landlord did not refuse to accept payment on behalf of the tenant or tenants by any agency offering assistance.
(c) The defense of abandonment does not abrogate the landlord’s duty under RSA 540-A:3, VII to maintain and exercise reasonable care in the storage of the personal property of tenants who have vacated the premises for a period of 7 days after the date upon which such tenants have vacated the rented or leased premises. The 7 days shall begin the day after the landlord serves the written property abandonment notice.
(d) In providing the property abandonment notice required under subparagraph (b), the landlord shall use conspicuous language identifying, with specificity, the reasons the landlord deems the property abandoned. The notice shall also advise the tenant or tenants of their right to retrieve any personal property as well as their right to file an action under RSA 540-A. The notice must be signed by the landlord, or the landlord’s agent. The use of the following notice language, in at least 12-point type, shall be deemed sufficient notice language:
NOTICE OF PROPERTY ABANDONMENT
This residence, known as __________________________, has been abandoned. I certify that, on this date, the property is believed to have been abandoned for the following circled reasons:
(1) You notified me in writing that you intended to vacate the premises.
(2) You have returned your keys to the premises.
(3) You have removed from the premises all or the majority of your personal property, and the only items remaining in the premises are inconsistent with the continued use of the premises.
(4) You have failed or neglected to pay rent for the premises for a period of more than 91 days.
Because you have abandoned the premises, we will retake possession of this property and the locks may be changed. We will store your personal property for 7 days from the date of the notice, and you have a right to get your personal property during that time.
If you disagree with any action we take, you should notify us immediately. You are also entitled to file what is called a “540-A petition” at your nearest court. You may have other additional legal rights as well.
Signed: _______________________________________ Date: _________________
Landlord’s or Landlord’s Agent’s Mailing Address: ___________________________________________
Landlord’s or Landlord’s Agent’s Telephone Number: ______________________
237:2 New Subparagraph; Prohibited Practices; Remedies; Unlawful Dispossession. Amend RSA 540-A:4, IX by inserting after subparagraph (d) the following new subparagraph:
(e) Landlord damages for any unlawful dispossession or lock-out of a tenant from the premises where the landlord has re-let the premises or has a new tenant in the premises shall not be less than $3,000. In the event the damages exceed the $3,000 minimum, the award shall not exceed the amount that would have been awarded pursuant to subparagraph (a).
237:3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2014.
Approved: July 15, 2013
Effective Date: January 1, 2014