2009 New Hampshire Statutes
TITLE LV — PROCEEDINGS IN SPECIAL CASES (Includes Chapters 534 - 546-B)
CHAPTER 540 — ACTIONS AGAINST TENANTS
Section 540:13 Writ; Service; Discovery; Record; Default.


    I. A writ of summons may be issued, returnable before a district court, setting forth in substance that the plaintiff is entitled to the possession of the demanded premises, and that the defendant is in possession thereof without right, after notice in writing, to quit the same at a day named therein.
    II. The writ shall be accompanied by a notice from the district court, printed in no smaller than 12-point type, informing the tenant that:
       (a) If the tenant wishes to contest the eviction, he must file an appearance in the district court no later than the return day appearing on the writ.
       (b) The tenant shall not be evicted unless the court so orders; however, such an order may be granted if the tenant does not file an appearance.
       (c) At the time the tenant files his appearance, he may request that the court make a sound recording of the eviction hearing by checking an appropriate box on the appearance form.
       (d) If the tenant wishes to appeal the district court's decision, he must:
          (1) File a notice of intent to appeal with the district court within 7 days of the notice of the district's decision; and
          (2) File a notice of appeal in the supreme court within 30 days of the notice of the district court's decision; and
          (3) Pay all rent, as it comes due, between the date of the notice of intent to appeal the district court's decision and the final disposition of the appeal.
    III. The writ of summons and the notice provided in paragraph II shall be returnable 7 days from the date of service of the writ by the sheriff. The writ of summons shall provide an opportunity for the landlord, at the landlord's option, to make a claim for an award of unpaid rent. If the landlord elects to make a claim for unpaid rent, the court shall consider any defense, claim, or counterclaim by the tenant which offsets or reduces the amount owed to the plaintiff. If the court finds that the landlord is entitled to possession on the ground of nonpayment of rent, it shall also award the landlord a money judgment. If the court determines that the amount owed by the landlord to the tenant, as a result of set-off or counterclaim exceeds or equals the amount of rent and other lawful charges owed by the tenant to the landlord, judgment in the possessory action shall be granted in favor of the tenant. If the court finds that the tenant's counterclaim exceeds the amount of the nonpayment, a money judgment shall issue in favor of the tenant. Any decision rendered by the court related to a money judgment, shall be limited to a maximum of $1,500 and shall not preclude either party from making a subsequent claim in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover any additional amounts not covered by the $1,500 judgment.
    IV. Both parties shall have a right to engage in discovery prior to the hearing on the merits within such time frame as may be established for eviction actions by the Rules of the District Court.
    V. If the tenant files an appearance, a hearing shall be scheduled to occur within 10 days after such filing, with allowance for additional time pursuant to paragraph IV, with notice of the hearing mailed to the parties no fewer than 6 days prior to the hearing. If the tenant fails to file an appearance or fails to appear at the hearing on the merits, the court shall mail a notice of default to the address set forth on the summons at least 3 days prior to the issuance of the writ of possession.
    VI. In deciding any contested hearing, the court shall issue a written decision setting forth the basis for its decision.
    VII. In the case of nonpayment of rent, while the possessory action is pending, the landlord may accept payment of the rental arrearage without creating a new tenancy, provided that the landlord informs the tenant in writing of the landlord's intention to proceed with the eviction in spite of the landlord's acceptance of the payment. The landlord may choose not to accept payment and to proceed with the eviction.

Source. RS 209:8, 9. CS 222:8, 9. GS 231:8. GL 250:8. PS 246:8. PL 357:13. RL 413:13. RSA 540:13. 1957, 244:23. 1992, 284:87. 1996, 155:1, 2. 1998, 25:1, 2, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.


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