Apparently not. The question is important because New Hampshire tenants have statutory protections against forced removal not available to hotel guests. The New Hampshire Supreme Court addressed this question on March 8, 2019 in the matter of Natalie Anderson v. Adam Robitaille.
Ms. Anderson and her husband began residing at an extended stay “all-suite residential-style hotel” in Nashua in November 2015. About fourteen months later, in January 2017, the general manager of the hotel informed Ms. Anderson her stay would end January 10, and if she did not leave, he would call the police. What to do?
New Hampshire has two groups of statutes dealing with the removal of occupants of residential housing and hotels, RSA 540 and 540-A (tenants), and RSA 353 (hotel guests). If an occupant is a “tenant,” then the owner/landlord must follow the procedures of RSA 540 to evict the occupant. This can take a minimum of two months. If an occupant is not a “tenant,” then much faster procedures are available.
Ms. Anderson argued she was a tenant, and thus entitled to the slower, more cumbersome process under RSA 540. She made four creative arguments, each of which the Court rejected.
Ms. Anderson’s Arguments
First, she argued she was not a “tenant,” as defined by the applicable statutes. In addressing this argument, the court looked at both RSA 540 and RSA 540-A because the two statutes “deal with a similar subject matter.” Taken together, and for purposes of this case, a tenant is defined as “one to whom a landlord rents or leases” residential premises. Excepted from this definition are “rooms in hotels, motels, inns, tourist homes and other dwellings rented for recreational or vacation use.”
Ms. Anderson argued the term “hotel” did not include her extended stay hotel because the hotel does not “act and behave like a traditional hotel in every way.” The court ruled no such exception existed in the statute.
Ms. Anderson next argued the clause “rented for recreational or vacation use” applied to hotels. This would mean a business user of a hotel is a tenant, while a recreational user of a hotel is not. The court rejected this argument too.
Ms. Anderson then focused on the statute dealing with the removal of hotel guests, RSA 353. Under her logic, if her occupancy did not fit within that statute, then she must be a tenant under the eviction statute, RSA 540. Under RSA 353, the term rental unit “shall include residential property rented for one month or less.” Because she rented her unit for longer than one month, her unit did not fall within RSA 353 and must, therefore, fall under RSA 540. In nixing this argument, the court said the term “shall include” did not limit the definition to rental periods of one month or less, but could include longer periods as well.
Finally, Ms. Anderson turned to taxes. RSA 78-A imposes a 9% tax on means and rooms, and excludes “any occupant who has occupied any room in a hotel for at least 185 consecutive days.”
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