By Gina Belmont, Circuit Court Sr. Administrator
On January 1, the Circuit Court launched several new or modified Landlord and Tenant Forms, which are highlighted on the court’s website. After several months of collaborative effort to improve this area of court practice, these essential forms have been made more user-friendly and understandable based on the feedback and expertise we received from judges, court clerks and administrative staff, litigants and advocates. In particular, we are grateful for the time and feedback provided by Attorneys Brian Shaughnessy and Elliott Berry, Attorney Connie Rakowksy and other members of the Access to Justice Commission, and Steve McGilvary with the Legal Advice and Referral Center.
Forms used in RSA 540-A matters reflect the largest change.
Formerly, landlords and tenants used the same forms to request emergency relief when one party alleged that the other was violating RSA 540-A. That meant that the filer would be called the Plaintiff and the respondent was the Defendant, regardless of whether the landlord or the tenant was filing. That led to a fair amount of confusion for both landlords and tenants.
With the new approach, forms to be filed by landlords in these emergency situations are clearly labeled and are to be used exclusively by landlords. Similarly, the forms that tenants use in these actions are exclusively for them. The court orders for these matters have also been similarly designated for either landlords or tenants.
The forms involved with the eviction process under RSA 540 have also been enhanced.
The Landlord and Tenant Writ now includes space for information that was previously required on the Affidavit of Ownership, eliminating the need to file the affidavit. The writ also consolidates and clarifies the information provided to the tenant, clearly stating the tenant’s rights and responsibilities in plain language. Another significant change is the introduction of a comprehensive judgment form that includes the various scenarios pertinent to eviction actions. Other forms have been revised for clarity and ease of use.
Updating these forms was a natural step in the court’s ongoing commitment to improving access to justice. This collaborative effort has led to a clearer and easier process which we expect will benefit all landlords and tenants in the state.
Litigants should use the new forms in all Landlord and Tenant actions filed in the Circuit Court. Copies of the new forms (with the exception of the writ) may be found on the court’s website. If you have any comments or suggestions about any of these forms, please let me know at GBelmont@courts.state.nh.us.