NHPR Reporter Gabriela Lozada Interviews NH Legal Aid and Fair Housing Project DIrector Maria Eveleth
On August 3rd, the Biden Administration reinstated the CDC’s eviction moratorium for tenants in counties that are experiencing high rates of COVID-19 cases. What legal assistance is available to New Hampshire residents? For that story, Gabriela Lozada, NHPR’s Report for America Corps member, interviews Maria Eveleth, Fair Housing Project Director at New Hampshire Legal Aid on The State We’re In. Gabriela’s focus is on Latin communities with original reporting in Spanish for¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?
Gabriela Lozada: Tell us about the legal side of evictions now that the moratorium is in place in New Hampshire.
Maria Eveleth: The moratorium was extended until October 3rd and it covers individuals that are facing eviction for nonpayment. The only difference right now is that you have to look at if they have high levels of transmission. It's kind of complicated because you have to look at your specific county to see if you're covered. However, I looked this morning and it looked like the whole state of New Hampshire is under the moratorium right now because there are high incidents of transmission of COVID-19.
Gabriela Lozada: Can you talk to us a little bit about the new package of renter protections signed into the state law?
Maria Eveleth: Before, a tenant who was facing eviction for nonpayment only had seven days to cure, meaning paying the rent due. Now with the new changes, a tenant that is facing eviction could still offer payment by the date of the hearing.
Gabriela Lozada: How will this help people stay in their homes?
Maria Eveleth: It provides more time to be able to get assistance to pay your rent. In the past, if you didn't pay by the cure day, you still could get evicted if you pay later than the cure day. Now you have that opportunity up until the date of the hearing, so it just grants a little more time.
Gabriela Lozada: What would you recommend to someone who wants to apply for the eviction assistance?
Maria Eveleth: If you are a tenant who's facing eviction, we recommend that you contact New Hampshire legal assistance immediately, or specifically, 603 Legal Aid to see if we can provide representation. Many times there are a lot of different ways that we could help someone who's in a situation like that. Perhaps the eviction notice is defective; there are a lot of different ways that you can argue and defend a person in a situation like that, so please call 603 Legal Aid.
Gabriela Lozada: Where does the eviction process begin and what should people know about it?
Maria Eveleth: If we're talking about eviction for nonpayment, normally you receive a seven day notice saying that you are late in your rent and then you would only have seven days to cure and pay your rent plus what they call damages. If you didn't pay that or paid after the cure, you could still get evicted.
Now, you can go to court and pay there. Once you receive the eviction notice, then you're going to receive what is called the landlord-tenant rate, and then the tenant should file what they call an appearance on the return day that should be written in the landlord-tenant rate. Right after that, you will be scheduled to go to court and then present your case and bring your arguments.
If you have money to pay for the rent, then you will at that point pay the rent. Or, if you are in a situation in which the reason for you not paying your rent was connected to COVID and you had to apply for financial assistance, we encourage you to request the judge to postpone the hearing to allow you to get through your application process, the financial rental assistance program that is available to individuals facing evictions due to COVID reasons.
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