There are two elements at play, restricting a landlord’s ability to evict a tenant at this time. The first are the governor’s Emergency Order #4 and #24. EO #4 prohibits any evictions to be started or enforced after March 17, 2020. EO #24 lightens the restrictions a little, by exempting proceedings that would be initiated because a tenant is causing substantial damage to the premises or is causing a substantial adverse impact on another tenant’s health or safety, a landlord can initiate evictions proceedings as usual. These orders are in effect for the duration of the State of Emergency, which is currently set to expire on April 24.
However, there is also a New Hampshire Supreme Court Order suspending all in-person court proceedings and restricting public access to all courthouses that is currently in effect until May 4, 2020. This Order will prevent an eviction from proceeding, unless a court schedules any hearing in the matter via teleconference or other electronic means. A landlord can still file a new case, but will not be able to proceed with a hearing and obtaining a Writ of Possession until after the Supreme Court Order is no longer in effect. The Order does allow for emergency relief filings, and in a matter of health or safety a landlord, or tenant, may be able to file an action under RSA 540-A:2 and obtain some relief in that manner.
Finally, there are federal restrictions on evictions under the CARES Act, the first of which prohibits any landlord receiving a federal rent subsidy, such as Section 8 vouchers, from evicting a tenant for reasons of non-payment of rent. This is currently in effect until July 25, 2020, at which time a landlord would then need to give a 30-day eviction notice to any such tenant before proceeding with any eviction action. This prohibition may even apply to tenants who are not directly receiving federal rent subsidy, but are living in a building where other tenants are receiving a subsidy. It is also possible that this section can apply to a building where the landlord’s mortgage is federally backed or insured. Landlords are also prohibited from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent while the landlord’s mortgage payments are in forbearance, for the entire duration of the forbearance. Once the forbearance period is over, the landlord needs to provide a 30-day eviction notice. These federal prohibitions are only applicable in cases where the cause of action is non-payment of rent. Any action for other causes would be subject to State restrictions.
Paul J. Alfano