New Hampshire Security Deposit Laws

New Hampshire law allows landlords to collect a security deposit of no more than one month’s rent.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
New Hampshire
law allows landlords to collect a security deposit of no more than one month’s rent. After your lease is over, your landlord will have 30 days to return your deposit.
Security deposits are one of the most dreaded parts of renting—it’s a big upfront cost, and since you’re probably not a fortune teller, you’re not able to predict what’s going to happen during your lease and whether you’ll be able to get all of it back. Plus, since laws regarding security deposits can vary so much from state to state, it can be hard to figure out your legal rights.
That’s why it’s important to get an understanding of your state’s landlord and tenant laws before signing a lease and making a deposit. To help you get started,
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What is New Hampshire law on security deposits?

Security deposits are a payment in addition to rent that a tenant makes, which is intended to cover any potential damages that may occur over the course of a lease. However, if your rental is damage-free by the end of your lease, in most cases you can expect to get most, if not all, of your deposit back.
Section 540-A
of New Hampshire law outlines the state’s requirements for security deposits.

What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in New Hampshire? 

At most, landlords in New Hampshire can only require a security deposit of $100 or one month’s rent, whichever amount is larger. 
Once your landlord has received your deposit, they’re required to deliver you a signed receipt, which should state the deposit amount and where it will be held.
Additionally, any necessary repairs needed in the rental should be noted on the receipt, or the tenant should list them in writing and give this to the landlord within five days of occupying the rental.
However, a receipt isn’t required if the tenant pays their deposit using one of the following methods:
  • Personal check
  • Bank check
  • Government- or nonprofit-issued check issued on tenant’s behalf
Even if a receipt isn’t required, the landlord should still provide the tenant with written notice that a list of necessary repairs or corrections needed in the rental unit should be given to the landlord within five days of occupying the unit.

How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit in New Hampshire? 

In most cases, your landlord must return your security deposit within 30 days of the end of your tenancy.
If your landlord holds onto your deposit for a year or longer, they’ll also be required to pay you any interest the amount earned in the account it was held in.
On the flip side, any deposit or interest earned that isn’t claimed by the tenant within six months of the lease end date can become the landlord’s property. 

What can a landlord withhold a security deposit for in New Hampshire?

They can’t keep it without reason, but in certain circumstances, a landlord can legally withhold all or some of your security deposit. Under New Hampshire law, a landlord can withhold security deposits for:
  • Repair costs for damages to the rental unit (excluding reasonable wear and tear)
  • Unpaid rent
  • Tenant’s share of increased real estate taxes, if noted in the lease agreement
For any amount withheld, the landlord must provide the tenant with an itemized list detailing expenses needed to repair damages and should specify the nature of any repairs and “satisfactory evidence” that the repair has taken place or will. That could include copies of receipts or quotes for a repair.
When it comes to getting your deposit back, what constitutes wear and tear can often be a point of contention. Generally speaking, wear and tear would refer to inevitable damage that would naturally happen to a property over time and isn’t the tenant’s fault. That could include worn carpets or floors, or an aged, leaking roof.
Wear and tear doesn’t include instances of intentional or negligent damage, however. If your pet left a stain on your carpet, for example, or if you accidentally made a hole in the wall when moving a piece of furniture, you could see a deduction from your security deposit to address these damages. 
Key Takeaway A New Hampshire landlord can withhold some or all of your security deposit, but only under legally allowed circumstances, like covering damages or unpaid rent.

How to get your security deposit back in New Hampshire

To save yourself some time, it’s a good idea to give your landlord your new mailing address in writing before you move out so you can get your deposit back in a timely manner. 
If you’re still waiting to receive your deposit, your first step should be to contact your landlord in writing to inquire about it. If your landlord refuses to cooperate with you, you have the option of taking them to small claims court for up to twice the
deposit amount
and interest, minus any lawful deductions.

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If you have a written agreement between you and your landlord, you might be able to use your security deposit toward your final month of rent. However, expecting to do so without an agreement could put you at risk of getting evicted before you’re ready to move out. 
In most cases, it’s best to pay your last month of rent as you normally do, then secure your deposit after your lease has wrapped up.
Your landlord could only subtract the cost of a carpet cleaning from your deposit if it was dirty or damaged beyond normal wear and tear. They’d be required to note the expense on their itemized list, along with satisfactory evidence that the carpet cleaning service took place.
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