New Hampshire Security Deposit Law: A Comprehensive Guide
Understanding the New Hampshire Security Deposit Law is crucial for landlords and tenants. This article offers a comprehensive guide to staying informed and compliant with state regulations.
Definition and Protection under the Law
A security deposit in New Hampshire is any money given to the landlord from the tenant aside from the monthly rent. This includes deposits for cleaning, pets, keys, or even the last month’s rent. The law categorically recognizes all these as security deposits.
The state law RSA 540-A:5-8 regulates these deposits, protecting most tenants. However, there are exceptions, such as tenants in single-family homes where the landlord owns no other rental property, tenants under 60 in small buildings where the landlord resides, and tenants in business, vacation, or recreational rentals.
Maximum Deposit Limits and Rent Increase
Landlords can demand a security deposit of up to $100 or equivalent to one month’s rent, whichever is larger. Interestingly, landlords can adjust the security deposit amount if the rent increases. For instance, if the rent is raised from $1000 to $1050, the landlord can request an additional $50 for the deposit, maintaining the equivalence to one month’s rent.
Receipt and Defect List Requirements
Upon receiving a security deposit, landlords must provide a signed receipt. This receipt should indicate where the deposit is held and inform tenants of their right to report existing damages within five days of moving in. Keeping a record of defects and damages when moving in and out, and sharing it with the landlord is a good practice for tenants.
Holding and Interest on Deposits
Landlords must keep security deposits separate from property operations or personal funds, often in a bank or similar financial institution. If the deposit is held for more than a year, landlords must pay interest to the tenant. This interest should be paid every three years or upon returning the deposit.
Deductions and Return of Deposit
Landlords can deduct from the deposit for unpaid rent, damage repairs, and the tenant’s share of real estate taxes if stipulated in the lease. However, they cannot charge for everyday wear and tear. Landlords have 30 days from the end of the tenancy to return the full deposit with interest or the remaining amount after permitted deductions. They must provide an itemized list of any deductions.
Legal Actions for Violations
Tenants can sue for double the deposit amount for violations like failing to pay interest, not returning the deposit in time, or not providing an itemized list of deductions. For more severe violations, such as demanding an excessively high deposit or failing to provide a receipt, tenants can sue for actual damages or $1,000, whichever is higher, plus costs and attorney fees. In cases of willful violations, the court may award up to three times the amount of damages.
The Importance of Understanding New Hampshire Security Deposit Law
In summary, the New Hampshire Security Deposit Law sets clear guidelines for the collection, holding, and return of security deposits, protecting the rights of both landlords and tenants. Understanding these rules helps prevent legal disputes and ensures a fair and transparent rental process.
Qira aims to keep this information as up-to-date as possible. The content provided here is informational and should be different from legal counsel. Please refer to the relevant government sources to check for any changes or updates to the law.