Thursday, June 25, 2020

Major Changes Coming To Rental Property In New Hampshire On July 1st

Beginning on July 1 there will be major changes to the prior eviction stays in New Hampshire that were put in place through Executive Orders earlier in the pandemic. However, apartment tenants who have concerns about rent payment should be able to access the new $35M fund that will be set aside for assistance.

On the apartment rental side, throughout the pandemic there has been some concerns about payment of rent from both renters and landlords. While unemployment rates have risen to historical highs, renters without jobs have been concerned about payments. Offsetting these concerns has been an infusion of additional funds from the federal government to increase unemployment benefits. The net result has been that tenant defaults and rent contraction has yet to surface in a major way. However, with the expiration of the expanded unemployment benefits, there is concern of some folks losing their ability to pay.

The CARES Act, passed by Congress, also afforded each state with so called Flex Funds. New Hampshire’s share was $1.2B, and it has been used for various COVID related challenges. One recent announcement, was that Governor Sununu will be taking some of those funds and directing them to housing assistance:

Governor Chris Sununu has authorized the allocation and expenditure of $35 million from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (“flex funds”) to support families or individuals in need of housing assistance as a result of COVID-19. Of the allocated $35 million, $20 million will be initially expended, with $15 million being held in reserve, for rent stabilization and housing support.”

The goal of the program is to provide assistance for those folks who may not have the funds to pay, or may otherwise have back payments on their apartments that they may need to clear up. More on the fund can be found here:

The goal is to have the funds and the distribution set up by July 1, which coincides with the reopening of evictions.

On March 17, the Governor announced that he was putting a freeze on evictions throughout the pandemic. While there were a narrow band that could move forward, non-payment evictions were stopped. As a practical matter, with the court system shut down, there was no channel for the process to go through. This stay on evictions was for all asset classes. Office, Industrial, Retail, and Apartments, were all collectively stayed on having evictions. As of July 1 this is being lifted as a result of Executive Order 51. More info on this can be found here:

It is clear that the goal is to soften the concern of non-payment by providing some floor of support to those in need through the $35M flex funds, and dove tailing that with the lift on the eviction freeze. It is worth noting that many landlords and tenants on the commercial side have worked through payment plans, and the hope is that the landing this summer, for all asset classes, will be as soft as it can be.

Landlords and tenants alike should also take interest in the fact that the Executive Orders are not the only governing documents relating to evictions. As part of the CARES Act, the federal government did put a stay on evictions for certain federally backed mortgages on apartments. All parties should research accordingly.

July 1 is right around the corner, and it is very important for all parties to read about the funds, understand if there is appropriate access to them, and see how these new orders affect them, their families, and their businesses.

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