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Bar Journal - Summer 2006

NHBJ EDITOR'S AWARD: AIMCO Properties v. Dziewisz

By:

Tipping the Balance Toward Tenant Rights...or Has It?

        If you were selling drugs out of your apartment, your landlord would have the right to evict you.  If you refused to pay your rent, your landlord would also have the right to evict you.  If pets are forbidden in your apartment, but you have a Great Dane living with you, your landlord would again have the right to evict you.  Common sense dictates that you will be bound to do, or refrain from doing, what you agreed to in a lease.  However, if you signed a one-year lease for an apartment, would your landlord be able to ask you to leave after 12 months?

        Prior to the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s recent decision in AIMCO Properties v. Kasha Dziewisz,1 the expiration of the lease meant the end of the relationship between the landlord and tenant.  Many believed that the owner of the property had the right to regain sole possession of the premises and the tenant had to seek alternative housing.  This notion is even reflected in the New Hampshire Practice Series on Real Estate, which states that “most leases expire on a date designated by the lease, and no action of either party is necessary to end the tenant’s occupancy rights on such a date.”2 

        After AIMCO, however, the relationship between landlords and their tenants has changed.  It would now seem that tenants have greater control over the premises than the legal owner.  In an effort to further protect tenants from arbitrary and discriminatory eviction, however, the Supreme Court has created a quagmire for both landlords and tenants as each scramble to adjust to this “new” standard.  Whether the decision will effectuate the majority’s stated intent is yet to be determined.3 

        This article discusses AIMCO and its effects on relationships between landlords and tenants.  First, it seeks to analyze the provisions of the applicable statute and clarify its applicability to particular properties.  Second, it will consider the relatively specialized area of landlord-tenant law and its influence on the Court’s seemingly anomalous conclusion that a tenant need not vacate the premises upon expiration of the agreed lease term.  Third, it will address the Court’s analysis regarding the ability of landlords to limit their commitment when renting certain residential properties and the degree to which AIMCO will affect the security of renters statewide.  Finally, it will analyze the state of landlord-tenant law in New Hampshire, including issues the AIMCO Court left unresolved.

 

RSA 540:1-a and 24

        A tenant is a person5 that has the temporary use and right of occupancy of real property owned by another, generally under the terms of a lease.6  As this interest in real property does not rise to the level of fee ownership, there will eventually be a point at which the possessory interest in the property is severed.7  In New Hampshire, like most states, the termination of any tenancy is expressly regulated by statute.8  However, this statutory right of termination is not applied in the same way to all types of property in New Hampshire. The principal distinction can be found in RSA 540:1-a, which classifies properties as being either restricted9 or nonrestricted10 for purposes of eviction.  The AIMCO decision pertains only to restricted properties.11  This aspect of the decision has caused considerable confusion; therefore, I will explain the significance of the distinction before proceeding further. 

        Nonrestricted properties are properties in which a landlord’s right to evict a tenant is essentially unfettered.12  RSA 540:2, I allows landlords of nonrestricted properties to terminate a tenancy at any time, so long as the proscribed notice requirements are followed.13  Such properties include the following:

   “...all real property rented for nonresidential purposes and the following real property rented for residential purposes:  (a) single-family houses, if the owner of such a house does not own more than 3 single-family houses at any one time; (b) rental units in an owner occupied building containing a total of 4 dwelling units or fewer; (c) rental units in a vacation or recreational dwelling, rented during the off season for purposes which are not vacation purposes or which are non-recreational; and (d) single-family houses acquired by banks or other mortgagees through foreclosure.”14 

        In essence, the statute pertains to properties that are being used in the furtherance of a business purpose.15  For instance, a few units rented out of an owner’s large house or a summer home rented out during the winter so the pipes do not freeze would not fall under this category.  While profit may derive from such rentals, the landlord’s activity does not rise to the level of a primary or substantial business venture.    

        Restricted properties, on the other hand, include all “...real property rented for residential purposes, except those properties listed …” as nonrestricted.16  For instance, the typical apartment complex would be a restricted property, as would a house rented from a landlord holding several houses to rent out simultaneously.  The subject property in AIMCO falls within the ambit of “restricted properties” and as such, the ramifications of this decision are limited to the same:  AIMCO will have no effect on nonrestricted properties.17  RSA 540:2, II, the particular subsection at issue here, further constrains landlords of restricted properties to a relatively short list of pre-determined reasons for eviction.18 That list includes neglect or refusal to pay rent,19 substantial damage to the premises,20 failure to comply with a material term of the lease,21 behavior that endangers other tenants,22 various lead paint issues23 and the catchall, for “other good cause.”24

        In addition to the qualified reasons listed above, RSA 540:2 provides one further directive for the interpretation of the statute.  Paragraph V provides that “other good cause” would include “...any legitimate business or economic reason and need not be based on the action or inaction of the tenant, members of his family, or guests.”25  Because this is the only indication as to what actually constitutes “other good cause,” it is commonly relied upon by landlords wishing to effect an eviction.  It is particularly applicable because restricted properties, as stated above, are those being used for business purposes.  As I will discuss further below, this distinction was the foundation for the AIMCO Court’s ultimate decision to “favor” renters of units falling within this relatively narrow class of restricted properties. 

 

New Hampshire Landlord-Tenant Law

        One reason why this decision has caused such a stir among members of the bar as well as the general public is the mistaken assumption that landlord-tenant law operates under principles of general contract law.  Historically, an owner’s lease of property to another was treated the same as an actual conveyance.26  However, recognizing the temporary nature of tenancies, the landlord tenant relationship gradually took on more aspects of general contract law.27  This should not come as a surprise to many, even if not trained in the legal profession.  A lease is in many ways a contract for the use of another’s property, rather than a transfer of ownership.28  Common understanding among the general public is also often consistent with the view that a standard lease is a 12-month contract.  However, the legislature, and most recently, the court, has approached the subject with a more pro-tenant stance.  As a result, members of the bar who are involved with evictions on a regular basis explain that this area of the law continues to evolve as a hybrid of real estate and contract law, with a strong element of consumer protection.

        In the wake AIMCO, many commentators, both in support of and against the decision, have focused on the contractual aspect of a residential lease.29  However, the traditional contractual rights of residential landlords have been substantially eroded by considerations of public policy.30  In commercial contexts, the parties are presumed to be on equal footing in lease negotiations and enforcement procedures.31  However, the enforcement of residential leases takes into account the imbalance in bargaining power between the typical landlord and tenant.32  As a result, many states have enacted statutes which seek to enhance protection for tenants, referred to as tenants’ rights acts, or “Anti-Eviction Acts”33 such as RSA 540, which vary in degree from extreme deference to tenants’ rights, to relatively weak protections against only those most blatant abuses.

        Beyond RSA 540, landlord-tenant relationships in New Hampshire are even further regulated by RSA 540-A which prohibits certain actions by both parties.34  While RSA 540 delineates the permitted reasons for eviction, RSA 540-A:2 additionally forbids any attempt by landlords to “...circumvent lawful procedures for eviction pursuant to RSA 540.”35  Moreover, a landlord is prohibited from interrupting utility services, possession or access to the premises without proper judicial process or denying access to the premises without prior consent of the tenant for a purpose other than making emergency repairs.36  Tenants, on the other hand, are forbidden from willfully withholding consent or damaging the property.37  These provisions seek to provide a tenant with sole use and possession of the premises to the highest degree possible while maintaining important aspects of the landlord’s ultimate ownership interest.  However, the protection of residential tenants as a specific class of consumers is recognized as an important public interest warranting additional protections.

        The New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act (“the Act”), RSA 358-A, applies to anyone “who acts in the ordinary course of business” and “clearly extends to lessors of real property ... and thus to the landlord-tenant relationship ... [because] tenants are among those for whose benefit the Consumer Protection Act was passed.”38  In order to provide suitable protections, RSA 540-A:4, IX specifically affords tenants the same civil remedies as are provided by the Act in other consumer relationships.39  In the event of a violation of RSA 540 (such as evicting without good cause), prevailing plaintiffs receive the greater of their actual damages or $1,000.00, in addition to reasonable attorney’s fees.40 

        In addition, RSA 540-A:4, IX provides that each day such a violation continues under the Act “... shall constitute a separate violation.”  Therefore, it is foreseeable that landlords seeking to assert their rights under the aforementioned statutes could find themselves slapped with significant fines and penalties.  For instance, in the recent case of Young v. Simpson, the New Hampshire Supreme Court awarded a tenant $34,000 in fines alone when the landlord willfully shut off utilities, believing he had the right to evict.41  This relationship between landlord-tenant and consumer protection legislation is evidence of New Hampshire’s willingness to provide tenants with heightened protections despite the residential landlord’s traditional ownership interests.  As such, it provides a policy-based foundation for the rationale as well as the ultimate outcome in AIMCO.    

 

The AIMCO Facts

        Kasha Dziewisz (“the tenant”) entered into a lease for an apartment from AIMCO Properties (“the landlord”) for the period of one year ending on August 31, 2004.42  In mid-July of 2004 the landlord sent a letter stating its intent to let the lease expire.43  The landlord did not provide any specific reason for not renewing the lease and it requested that the tenant vacate the premises by August 31, 2004.44  August 31 came and went and the tenant remained in possession of the apartment.45  Upon submission of a writ of possession by the landlord, the tenant, proceeding pro se, filed three motions to dismiss, one of which alleged that the plaintiff failed to cite “good cause” for eviction.46  The district court denied all three motions to dismiss and granted a writ of possession for the landlord.47  On appeal the Supreme Court addressed only the claim of failure to state “good cause” and decided whether the expiration of a lease constituted “other good cause” under RSA 540:2, II(e).48

 

The Decision

        In its decision, the Court first stated that the definition of “other good cause” is patently ambiguous and therefore required a foray into legislative intent.49  From the time of its introduction in 1985 as House Bill 95, the purpose of the statute was to enumerate ways that landlords could evict tenants, while protecting tenants from arbitrary action.50  Theoretically, its goal was to require “...almost all landlords...to establish justifiable cause for eviction.”51  An adequate supply of suitable housing for individuals unable to purchase their own homes, especially those of low and moderate incomes, is a legitimate concern in any state.  The legislature feared that an unfettered right to evict on a yearly basis would cause families to move, children to change schools, imposing unexpected moving costs, result in a loss of local services, and in the worst case scenario, homelessness.52  In addition to the maintenance of a suitable housing market, the statute was intended to thwart landlords trying to evict for “ill-motivated reasons.”53  Without such a statute, the legislature feared that landlords could exercise biases against tenants by using some other reason as a pretext for eviction, such as the expiration of a lease.54  In sum, the legislature intended to provide tenants with the expectation that so long as they pay rent and abide by the lease, they will have a continuous home.                  

        Ultimately, the AIMCO majority concluded that evicting a tenant from a restricted property for no reason other than the expiration of their lease would be “arbitrary,” and as such, contrary to the purpose of the statute.55 Although the Court seemingly recognized the impending restraint on alienability of the property, it was persuaded that public policy outweighed those concerns.56  Turning to RSA 540:2,V which provides that “other good cause” would include “any legitimate business or economic reason,”57 the Court further articulated that with restricted properties in particular, no business or economic rationale existed for simply evicting due to the expiration of the lease.58  The majority declared that such an eviction would merely be a swap of one tenant for another and would therefore lack any business or economic rationale.59  The Court was concerned that RSA 540:2, II would lose the ability to effectuate its purpose if the Court were to accept the expiration of a lease as “other good cause.”    

        In response to the argument that landlords would be handcuffed when it came to evicting tenants for legitimate reasons, the Court first distinguished the rights of current tenants and those that will sign leases in the future.60  The landlord could cite any non-discriminatory reason to reject a tenant before signing a lease, but once a lease was signed, “good cause” was required to evict.61  It further stated that the onus should be placed on the landlord to rent only to those people to whom they would wish to rent to long term.62  In this particular case, because the landlord set forth no reason that warranted removal of the tenant from her apartment,63 aside from the expiration of the lease, a majority of the Court reversed the decision of the Nashua District Court and reinstated the tenant’s possession of the premises.64

 

The “Special” Concurrence

        Concurring with the majority, but for different reasons, Justice Nadeau wrote on the issue of “other good cause.”65  He found that the expansive language of the statute could allow the expiration of a lease to be a legitimate business or economic reason raising “good cause” to evict.66  In addition, Justice Nadeau asserted that the majority’s conclusion that the landlord would not be able to put forth any business or economic reason was inaccurate.  Without providing an example to that effect, he suggested that there may be some instances in which mere expiration would be a legitimate business or economic reason, warning that the majority may have jumped to conclusions.67  

                Justice Nadeau further criticized the majority’s rationale and stated that this decision could force a landlord into a perpetual lease.  Support for his position was found in Franklin Tower One, LLC v. N.M.,68 a case decided under New Jersey’s Anti-Eviction Act.69  There, the Supreme Court of New Jersey found that disregarding the durational term of a lease would effectively provide an upstanding tenant a life estate in the premises.70  That statute is comparable, in its language and effect, to RSA 540:1.71  The New Hampshire Supreme Court, on the other hand, is under the assumption that this is not the case in this state.  In support of this claim, the Court simply cited comments by the legislature that this statute was not intended to allow such potential life estates.72  Even if not quite to the degree of a life estate, a tenant would seemingly be able to lock in their possession a similarly extended period of time.  Such a tenant would undoubtedly be receiving protections well above and beyond those contemplated by any Consumer Protection or Tenant’s Rights Act. In conclusion, Justice Nadeau stressed his disbelief that the acceptance of such restraint on the alienability of one’s property was what the legislators intended when adopting this statute.73

 

Legislative Response

        In reaction to AIMCO, two bills were introduced to the legislature in attempts to supercede the decision.  As mentioned above, both expressed concerns over the seemingly inappropriate application of contract law to the landlord-tenant relationship.  House Bill 1388 sought to define “...occupancy after the last day of the period of tenancy specified in the lease” as a violation of a material term of a lease, warranting eviction.74  The bill further proposed to raise the allowable security deposit from one month to two months’ rent, in an effort to further secure landlords from breaching tenants.75  The bill received little interest in the House and was quickly voted down because HB 1548, discussed below, had already been introduced to remedy the eviction problem, and doubling the security deposit would put an undue financial burden on tenants.76

        House Bill 1548 attempted to accomplish essentially the same result through a different approach.77  HB 1548 would have added to RSA 540:2, II a provision including “[e]xpiration or rightful termination of the term of a lease or other agreement of tenancy, or the rescission of any such lease or agreement” as another statutorily-permitted reason for eviction.78  This approach more squarely attacked the majority’s actual analysis of the statute.  This bill, however, was also defeated in the House by a vote of 166-102.79  The House majority stated that the bill would “...unnecessarily disturb 20 years of settled legislative policy,” referring to the consumer protection and public policy concerns, as well as the general effectiveness of RSA 540.80  It went on to conclude that the current law was effective in balancing landlord-tenant rights, as well as providing “a stable housing market.”81  On the contrary, the House minority stated that the landlord’s property interest should remain paramount and the potential life estates occasioned by AIMCO were a greater threat to public policy.82  Although both bills failed, the relatively narrow margin of defeat illustrates the continuing split in opinion over the propriety of the AIMCO decision. 

 

Analysis

        At first glance, AIMCO seems not only puzzling, but unreasonable.  As a result, the first reaction of many commentators was that landlords could simply avoid AIMCO with new lease provisions or only committing tenancies at will.  However, neither are viable options and the ramifications of the decision, as you will see, run much deeper.  In furtherance of its consumer protection bias, RSA 540:28 forbids a landlord from inducing a tenant to waive any rights expressly provided to them under RSA 540, such as rights to quiet enjoyment, security, notice before a landlord can enter the premises and now, the right to remain after expiration of the lease.83  After AIMCO, any attempt to release a landlord from this obligation will be unenforceable.  Similar concern has been expressed as to whether landlords will simply refuse to commit to anything greater than an at-will tenancy in order to avoid the effects of AIMCO.  Here as well, this option is expressly foreclosed by RSA 540:2 which applies to “any tenancy,” regardless of whether a tenancy for years was ever involved.84

        AIMCO finds support not only within the consumer protection statutes, but also seems to be a reasonable application of RSA 540:1 and established public policy concerns.  However, while the majority found these reasons to be sufficient on their own, it failed to address several other issues.  First, the typical property that falls under the umbrella of restricted properties would be an apartment building with numerous units.  If a tenant has not violated any provisions in a lease, what economic or business reason would the landlord have to evict them?  In such a situation, it would in most cases be economically harmful for the landlord to force this tenant out.  An apartment without a renter brings no income.  It is typical that upon surrender of an apartment by one tenant, it will take at least a few weeks, if not months, to find, and prepare for, the next tenant.  This assumes a best-case scenario in which renters are waiting to get in.  However, even in rental-starved states such as New Hampshire, this is not always the case.   

        Next, even if accepting for purposes of discussion that there may be no economic reason, the availability of a business reason may still remain.  Justice Nadeau’s opinion exposes the Achilles heel of the “no business or economic reason” justification.  He states that the majority’s assumption that the landlord “...could not prove any set of circumstances under which the expiration of the tenant’s lease could be a “legitimate business or economic reason,” may not be accurate.85  Unfortunately, he did not provide any specific examples of such a situation.  The point remains that while discrimination must be prevented, the Court’s assumption that any reason for eviction outside of those included in the statute is ill-motivated may not be absolutely accurate.

        Furthermore, the Court’s analysis began with an immediate jump to the issue of “other good cause”.86  However, before a landlord is required to rely on “other” good cause to justify an eviction, the statute provides relief for landlords in instances where a tenant “violates a material provision of a lease.”87  The Court apparently never considered this section of the statute.  It appears that the Court implicitly found that the duration of a lease is not material.  If this were the case, it would seem that in the event of a dispute, the durational clause of a lease could be routinely ignored, leaving the rest of the contract in place.  Thus, a lease term of 14 months, specifically negotiated by the parties, is likely to be unenforceable.  Similarly, it appears that a clause forbidding music after 8:30 pm would be considered material, but not the term of the tenancy.  While such a result is counterintuitive, the AIMCO majority’s analysis does not foreclose it.

        Finally, the Court seems to have given no deference to the common practices that have existed throughout New Hampshire before and since the enactment of this statute.  Even as we recognize the legitimate concern that lower-income tenants be able to retain housing, the current practice of enforcing durational terms in a lease is broadly accepted.  Prior to AIMCO, landlords relied on durational terms within their leases to limit their commitment to a particular tenant.  The tenant enjoyed the security of at least 12 months of housing, while the landlord could for whatever reason fill a particular premises with another tenant if it wished.  As stated by Attorney Brian Shaugnessy in the NH Business Review, “The tenant/landlord law is working.  Why change it?”88  

 

Conclusion

        In AIMCO, the New Hampshire Supreme Court turned the heads of many people.  According to many, the outcome was illogical, unnecessary and even shocking.  To others, it was a positive step toward protecting the rights of tenants. To attorneys regularly involved in evictions, it came as no surprise as many were inclined to believe that the statute could be interpreted this way.               

        While the Court did not overturn any prior precedent in reaching this conclusion, it has forced many to look at landlord-tenant relationships in a different light.  It may be true that this state suffers from a lack of suitable housing for many low-income families and on this front, the Court’s intentions were admirable.  The effect of this decision on landlord-tenant matters is not yet fully evident, as the case is still relatively new.  Even if some practitioners may have been counseling their landlord clients consistent with this outcome, they have to pay considerably more attention to its ramifications.  Each month, more leases will be expiring and new leases will be entered.  Whether landlords will place more stringent requirements on their rental standards or steer clear of potential tenants remains to be seen.  If this is the case, it would seem that the majority’s intention to protect this particular class of consumers was not successful. 

        Furthermore, once these leases have been signed, if the relationship between the landlord and tenant turns sour, what then?  In the past, either party would simply stick it out for the duration of the lease, relying on the expiration to end their commitment rather than becoming involved in messy eviction actions.  Since AIMCO, this option is effectively foreclosed.  What once was a relatively innocuous escape valve for both parties may now be a breeding ground for unseemly practices as landlords search for ways to get out of a problematic lease.  Will they now resort to exaggerating reasons in order to evict?  Again, this would hardly foster an amiable environment for renters and landlords alike and would be far from consistent with the stated purpose of this decision.  

        AIMCO has certainly spurred awareness of many issues regarding landlord-tenant matters, both legal and social.  While it seems to be consistent with current legal views of the landlord-tenant relationship, it is likely to have broader effects than the Court had intended.  Landlords may now be more likely to reject a prospective tenant in order to forgo and potential evictions problems that might arise. Ironically, those individuals who are now more likely to find it difficult to find an apartment are the very class this decision seeks to protect.

 

Endnotes

*       B.A., Economics, St. Lawrence University (2003); J.D., Franklin Pierce Law Center (May 2005).

1.     AIMCO v. Dziewisz, 152 N.H. 587, 883 A.2d 310 (2005).

2.     17 Charles A. Szypszak, New Hampshire Practice Series: Real Estate § 9.06 (Lexis 2003).

3.     As of yet, the AIMCO decision has not been tested in the courts themselves, however several unsuccessful legislative responses will be discussed below.

4.     RSA 540:2 (2002).

5.     While Black’s Law Dictionary’s definition of a person normally includes corporations, partnerships and any other entity suitably formed and able to hold interests in property, for purposes of this article, the residential tenants can be assumed to be “natural” persons.

6.     Black’s Law Dictionary 898 (Bryan A. Garder ed., 6th ed., West 1999) (defining a lease as “A contract by which a rightful possessor of real property conveys the right to use and occupy that property in exchange for consideration, usually rent”). 

7.     However, a perpetual lease may arguably be valid and enforceable if such intent was clearly stated in the lease.  See Bussiere v. Roberge, 142 N.H. 905, 909 (1998).

8.     RSA 540 (2002).

9.     RSA 540:1-a, II (2002) (“Restricted property” means all real property rented for residential purposes, except those properties listed in paragraph I (as nonrestricted properties)).

10.    RSA 540:1-a, I (2002) (“Nonrestricted property” means all real property rented for nonresidential purposes and the following real property rented for residential purposes:  (a) Single-family houses, if the owner of such a house does not own more than 3 single-family houses at any one time, (b) Rental units in an owner-occupied building containing a total of 4 dwelling units or fewer, (c) Rental units in a vacation or recreational dwelling, rented during the off-season for purposes which are not vacation purposes or which are nonrecreational, (d) Single-family houses acquired by banks or other mortgagees through foreclosure).

11.    AIMCO, 152 N.H. at 590 (stating that RSA 540:2, II only applies to landlords who rent restricted property; landlords who are generally in the business of renting residential property; and whose main concern is, presumably, profit).

12.    RSA 540:1-a, I (1997).

13.    Id. (providing that the lessor or owner of nonrestricted property may terminate any tenancy by giving to the tenant or occupant a notice in writing to quit the premises in accordance with RSA 540:3 and 5).

14.    RSA 540:1-a, I.

15.    See note 17 infra.

16.    Id.

17.    AIMCO, 152 N.H. at 589.

18.    RSA 540:2, I-VI (1997).

19.    Id. at II(a).

20.    Id. at II (b).

21.    Id. at II (c).

22.    Id. at II (d).

23.    Id. at II (f).

24.    Id. at II (e).

25.    RSA 540:2,V.

26.    See Szypszak, supra n. 6 at § 9.05.

27.    Id.; see also, Echo Consulting Services v. North Conway Bank, 140 N.H. 566, 569 (1995)(holding that a “lease is a form of contract that is construed in accordance with the standard rules of contract interpretation”).

28.    N.J.Stat. Ann. § 2A:18-61.1 (2000).

29.    See Szypszak, supra n. 6; Chris Dornin, Landlords, tenants clash over eviction bills, N.H. Bus. Rev 21 (Feb. 3-16, 2006); Lisa Arsenault, When lease is up, time to pack?, Concord Monitor (Feb. 15, 2006) (discussing HB 1548 with landlords as well as tenant rights promoters).

30.    RSA 540-A:8 (2005) (providing the same remedies as RSA 358, the consumer protection statute).

31.    See RSA 540-A; see also, RSA 358-A.

32.    See RSA 540.

33.    N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1 (2000).

34.    RSA 358-A titled “Prohibited Practices and Security Deposits”.

35.    See RSA 540-A:2 (2005)(providing for “General Prohibitions”).

36.    RSA 540-A:3, I-IV (2005).

37.    Id. at V-VII. 

38.    Hughes v. DiSalvo, 143 N.H. 576, 577 (1999).

39.    RSA 540-A:4, IX (2005)(referring to RSA 358-A:10 for specific provision of remedies)

40.    RSA 358-A:10 (2002).

41.    Young v. Simpson, 2005 WL 3543600 ( 2005 N.H.).

42.    AIMCO, 152 N.H. at 588.

43     Id.

44     Id.

45     Id.

46     Id.

47     Id.

48     Id. at 590.

49     Id. (citing State v. Whittey, 149 N.H. 463 (2003)).

50     N.H.S. Journ. 1040 (1985).

51     Id.

52     AIMCO, 152 N.H. at 590.

53     Id.

54     Id.

55     Id.

56     Id.

57     Id.

58     Id.

59.    Id. at 591.

60.    Id. at 592.

61.    Id.

62.    Id. at 591-592.

63.    Id. at 592.

64.    Id.

65.    Id. at 593.

66.    Id.

67.    Id.

68.    Id. (case cited as 157 N.J. 602 (1999)).

69.    N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1.

70.    Id.

71.    Providing that grounds for eviction include:  (a) failure to pay rent, (b) disorderly conduct, (c) negligent destruction of premises, (d) breach of landlord’s rules, (e) breach of covenants, (g) landlord seeks to close or destroy premises, (h) retirement of current purpose, (i) refusal to agree to reasonable changes to lease terms.  These are almost all included in the RSA 540:2, however the N.J. statute is more detailed and includes additional grounds.

72.    N.H.S. Jour. 1042-43 (1985) (quoting Senator Boyer’s statement that the statute would not result in the establishment of life estates).

73.    AIMCO, 152 N.H. at 593.

74.    N.H. H. 1388, 159th Leg., (2006).

75.    Id.

76     N.H. H. J. Vol. 28, No. 20, 159th Leg. (Feb. 22, 2006).

77     N.H. H. 1548, 159th. Leg., (2006).

78     Id.

79     N.H. H. J. Vol. 28, No. 29, 159th Leg. (Mar. 22, 2006).

80     Id.

81     Id.

82     Id.

83     RSA 540:28.

84     Leases of commercial property commonly contemplate renegotiation.  However, with residential leases, normally little or no negotiation usually occurs and the tenant usually becomes a tenant at sufferance or at will, often without signing a new lease.  AIMCO applies regardless of the tenant’s “current right” of possession.  Furthermore, the AIMCO decision, in conjunction with RSA 540, may have effectively changed the definition of tenancies “at sufferance”  and “at will”  for restricted properties in New Hampshire.

85     AIMCO, 152 N.H. at 593 (emphasis in original).

86     Id. at 590.

87     RSA 540:2,II(e).

88     Chris Dornin, Landlords, tenants clash over eviction bills, N.H. Bus. Rev 21 (Feb. 3-16, 2006).

 

Author

Scott Kumpf graduated from Franklin Pierce Law Center in May 2006. He received a degree in economics fromSt. Lawrence University in 2003.

 

 

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