New Hampshire Security Deposit
New Hampshire Security Deposits

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NEW HAMPSHIRE SECURITY DEPOSIT LAW

New Hampshire law (RSA 540-A) defines a security deposit as any money that a tenant gives to his or her landlord other than the monthly rental payment. The name given to the payment -- cleaning deposit, last month’s rent in advance, etc. -- does not matter. The amount is a “security deposit” if it is anything other than the monthly rent.

In New Hampshire, a landlord who owns more than six units can ask for no more than one month’s rent or $100, whichever is larger, as a security deposit. The landlord must keep security deposits in a special escrow account or post a bond with the local municipality to secure repayment.

The tenant is entitled to a receipt for the deposit. See our free Rent Receipt Forms. The receipt must indicate the bank in which the deposit is being held, or state that there is a bond posted with the town clerk, and must state that the tenant has five (5) days to give the landlord a list of defects and damages in the apartment when she or he moved in. If the security deposit is held for more than 12 months, the landlord must pay at least the amount of interest she or he has actually earned on the money.

RETURN OF DEPOSIT: When the tenant moves out of a rental unit, the landlord has thirty (30) days in which to either return the entire security deposit plus interest if appropriate, or send a written statement of any deductions made from the deposit for repairs, cleaning, etc., the cost of each repair (supported by copies of appropriate receipts, estimates, contracts, etc.) along with the remaining amount of the deposit (RSA 540-A:7). The tenant needs to notify the landlord of his or her new address within 30 days of moving out. The notice must be in writing, but need not be formal. 
** USE OUR REQUEST FOR SECURITY DEPOSIT LETTER- FREE

Normal Wear and Tear and Damage: The landlord can use the security deposit to repair damage for which the tenant is responsible. But the landlord cannot apply the security deposit to normal wear and tear. The question is: What's the difference?

Normal wear and tear includes deterioration of the premises that occurs under normal use conditions. For example, paint may fade, electrical switches may wear out and break, pull strings on curtains may fray and snap, and carpet may wear down. These things happen even if the tenant cleans regularly and cares for the premises reasonably. Damage occurs from unreasonable use or accidents, and includes extreme build up of dirt, mold, etc., stains on carpets, and broken windows. Even planned alterations to the premises are considered damage. For example, the tenant cannot leave large holes in the walls from shelving, and cannot repaint the walls to significantly change the color. If the tenant wishes to make changes to the premises that will remain after the tenant moves out, the tenant should secure that landlord's written permission.

The tenant can take steps to avoid disputes over damage. At the beginning of the lease term, the tenant should inspect the premises thoroughly and note all problems in writing. The tenant should sign and date the list and also have the landlord sign the list. At the end of the lease, the tenant should again inspect the premises with the landlord present, discuss any damage with the landlord, and against prepare a list. See Rentlaw.com for their Normal Wear and Tear Guide

WHERE TO GO IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM

A good source of help for landlord-tenant problems is New Hampshire Legal Assistance. There are several branches of New Hampshire Legal Assistance around the state:

Manchester: 603-668-2900 or 1-800-562-3174
Claremont: 603-542-8795 or 1-800-562-3994
Portsmouth: 603-431-7411 or 1-800-334-3135
Littleton: 603-444-8000 or 1-800-548-1886

 

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