How to Evict a Tenant (Process)
The eviction process begins with the landlord serving the tenant an eviction notice. The notice must be in written form and conform to legal notice periods and indications. Before a tenant can be evicted, the landlord must win an eviction case against them in court. Under no circumstances is a landlord permitted to break into a rental unit, turn off utilities, or attempt to evict the tenant themselves. Furthermore, if the tenant pays rent or cures their lease violations/damages within the given notice period, the landlord cannot file for eviction.
Step 1 – Notice to Quit
The landlord will give the tenant seven (7) or thirty (30) days notice depending on the reason for the eviction. The four (4) principal circumstances that call for removal are unpaid rent, substantial damage to the premises, behavior that affects the health and safety of others, and lease violation(s). If the eviction notice is for non-payment of rent, damage to the property, endangering the health and safety of others, or other “good cause,” the landlord must give seven (7) days notice. Any other type of eviction requires thirty (30) days notice. For non-payment of rent, the tenant must receive a Demand for Rent from the landlord before being served an eviction notice, however, there is no set time period for how much earlier it must be served. Furthermore, if a “good cause” for eviction is based on the tenant’s actions or inactions, the landlord must give them a written warning to correct the situation before they can serve a Notice to Quit.
New Hampshire Demand for Rent — Must be issued to the tenant before serving a notice to pay or quit.
New Hampshire 7/30 Day Notice to Quit — For non-payment of rent, property damages, endangering health and safety of others, lease violations, or other “good cause” (defined as business/economic reasons, such as if the tenant refuses a rent increase).
New Hampshire 30 Day Lease Termination Letter — For ending a month-to-month or “at will” tenancy.
Step 2 – Serve Notice on Tenant
Once the Notice to Quit has been completed, it must be served on the tenant. The document may be delivered in-person by the landlord, another adult, a process server, or by the local sheriff. Alternatively, it may be posted on the premises of the rental property, with an additional copy sent to the tenant by certified mail. The person who serves the notice on the tenant must sign and date a copy of it, certifying that the delivery occurred.
Step 3 – Landlord and Tenant Writ
If the notice period expires and the tenant has failed to comply with the notice by paying for rent/damages, remedying their lease violations/behavior, or moving out, the landlord may start an eviction case against them in court. To start an eviction lawsuit, the landlord must fill out and file the Landlord and Tenant Writ (NHJB-2333-DP) form. This document can only be obtained from the court’s office when the landlord files the eviction action. For cases in which the tenant hasn’t paid rent, the landlord will need to fill out the Affidavit of Damages and Statement of Claim form. Although it does not need to be filed when the case is opened, the Affidavit as to Military Service must be filled out, notarized, and filed with the court before a Writ of Possession can be issued. Furthermore, the Affidavit of Ownership, which describes the landlord’s ownership of the property, may also be requested by the court.
Step 4 – File Forms With Clerk
The landlord must file the eviction lawsuit in the District Court of the county where the rental property is located. When submitting their case, the landlord will need to bring copies of the lease, the Notice to Quit, and the Demand for Rent (if applicable), along with the Affidavit of Damages and Statement of Claim (if applicable) and the Affidavit of Ownership (if requested). As previously stated, the Landlord and Tenant Writ must be purchased at the court’s office. The cost of the writ is $1, and the filing fee will be $125. The landlord must also pay service fees to the sheriff’s office responsible for delivering the writ to the tenant. There may be further applicable costs depending on the case and whether the court hearing is called which can be determined by contacting the local District Court and sheriff’s offices.
Step 5 – Serve Tenant with Landlord and Tenant Writ
After the landlord has filed the eviction lawsuit, the tenant will be served a copy of the Landlord and Tenant Writ by the local sheriff’s office. This writ informs the tenant of the action being sought against them, as well as the “return date” (the date that the tenant must request a hearing by). To request a hearing, the tenant must file an Appearance Form with the District Court’s office. If the tenant does not submit the Appearance Form before the return date, they will be in default, and a court-ordered eviction will be issued.
Step 6 – File Return of Service
After serving the tenant with the Landlord and Tenant Writ, the sheriff will give the landlord a Return of Service form. This document certifies that the writ has been served to the tenant and it must be filed with the District Court’s office.
Step 7 – Notice of Hearing
If the tenant files an appearance, the court will schedule a hearing to take place within ten (10) days from the filing date and send a Notice of Hearing to both parties. At any time before the court date, the landlord and tenant may reach an agreement outside of court and cancel the hearing by filling out and filing an Agreement Form.
Step 8 – Attend Hearing (if applicable)
Both the landlord and tenant are required to attend the scheduled court hearing. If the tenant or the landlord fails to show up in court, a default judgment will most likely be made against the non-attending party. The landlord should bring copies of all any documents relevant to the case (Demand for Rent, Notice to Quit, lease copy, photographs, etc.). After interviewing both parties and reviewing the case, the Judge will reach a decision. If the Judge rules in favor of the tenant, the case will be dismissed. If the landlord wins the case, the court issues a Writ of Possession ordering the tenant to vacate the property. However, the writ must be issued a minimum of eight (8) days from the date that the judgment is granted.
Step 9 – Remove Tenant
The Writ of Possession will be served to the tenant by the sheriff’s office. The tenant is only required to leave when the sheriff serves them the writ. If the tenant does not move out of the rental property by the appointed date, the sheriff will be authorized to remove them from the premises. Whether the tenant vacates the rental unit voluntarily or is locked out by the sheriff, the landlord must care for the property and any belongings that the tenant left behind for at least seven (7) days. The tenant may retrieve their property at any time during these seven (7) days.