Proposed NH law could require up to 3 months rent before moving in

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Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.

Renting an apartment is not easy.  Some places require first month’s rent and a security deposit equal to a month’s rent before you can even move in. This is a lot of money.  The New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness reported that the median fair market rent for a two bedroom apartment is $1,259 a month.  This means you would have to put up $2,500  just to move in.

For the landlord, the security deposit is to ensure that the tenant leaves the rental in the same shape as when they first moved in.  If the tenant leaves the rental in good shape the renter would get their security deposit returned to them.  In most cases the landlord uses the security deposit to clean and freshen up the apartment and returns the unused amount to the tenant. In many cases, tenants never see their security deposits returned to them after the leave.

A group of New Hampshire legislators is looking to make it harder for people to rent and more profitable for landlords by increasing the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit.

Introduced this week, House Bill 1485, would allow landlords to collect a security deposit equal to two month’s rent up front as a condition of the rental agreement. Currently the law only allows for a maximum of one month’s rent.  With this change a renter could be forced to come up with $3,700 up front to move into their new apartment.

This is an exorbitant amount of money for most people.

According to a 2015 study, “62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts and 21 percent don’t even have a savings account.”  They continued by saying “62 percent of Americans have no emergency savings for things such as a $1,000 emergency room visit or a $500 car repair.”

If if the average American cannot come up with $500 dollars for an emergency repair on their car, how are they going to come up with $3,700 for a down-payment on an apartment?  This also speaks to the fact that we need to raise the minimum wage to a real living wage, but I digress.

This bill is unnecessary and spiteful. Even paying two months rent up front is hard enough, making them pay three is obscene. Making it a “security deposit” that they may or may not get back is even worse. One month’s rent for a security deposit is more than ample. If the tenant does more damage than the security deposit covers, take them to court.

The legislature should kill this bill.

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Matthew Murray is founder of the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message, and oversees the NH Labor News Facebook page. Follow @NHLabor_News on Twitter.

  • Chris Miller

    It does seem completely unreasonable. If it does go into effect, I’d expect the rental market to disappear. Greed isn’t always good.

  • Janet

    How many in the State house are landlords? The average person could be never pay the amount asked. The homeless rate would surely climb if this Bill is passed. My rent at my last apartment was more than my Social Security. Greed is all I can say.

  • Donna Clement

    The proposal to require 3 months rent upfront is ridiculous and unjust. People can’t afford this. Not to mention how many landlords unjustly pocket security deposits, claiming damages that don’t actually occur. If you vote yes on this proposal, you need to have your head examined. We need more affordable housing. Not, let’s make landlords richer with claims of damage that don’t occur. I am a previous landlord, a previous estate broker, real estate appraiser, was a federal disability adjudicator. This proposal is way out there.

  • Robert Fletcher

    Seems I seldom see pieces published from the landlord side. I wish i had even part of the money back I lost from tenants who have rented the other half of the duplex i live in over the last 45 years. Never mind the hassle and time. First of all Matthew Murray says ” In most cases the landlord uses the security deposit to clean and freshen up the apartment and returns the unused amount to the tenant.” This is wrong. I have to return all of the security deposit other than that used for damage done by the renter. I do NOT get to use it to “freshen” the apartment. The tenant only has to leave it broom clean. Dirty sinks, refrigerator full of crap and stink and who knows what stuck to the insides are OK. Dirty ovens are ok. Unless by freshen he means repairing holes in the wall or illegally painted horrible colors, doors torn off their hinges, broken windows and screens, floods by faucets left on in sinks and baths, and on even past your imagination. Savvy tenants can stall an eviction for months causing me gobs of lost time and money. And when they skip leaving rent unpaid plus all kinds of crappy, non-working and useless stuff behind I have to hold onto it and store it, and yes maybe even give it all back to them. Or just pay to have to taken to the dump. Many have learned how to fake references with the help of friends at the other end of the phone line. I had one woman with a man who would sneak in and out a window (as he was wanted by the police) and steal my tv/internet connection. One woman dyed her hair blond and then sued me when it turned out greenish. And with the skippers, the tv/internet/phone providers come to me looking for their rented equipment back. With a lot of care and reseach and luck I sometimes get good tenents and yes then I make some profit. Sometimes I get taken to the cleaners.
    And you might read the laws for landlords/tenants on the books. See the hoops landlords have to go throught and how much the statutes favor tenants.
    You also might want to research the cost of getting plumbers, carpenters, etc. out for repairs of clogged septic systems and pipes, ruined ceilings from tenants careless showers, etc.

  • Margaret Kris

    Making it unaffordable to rent an apartment isn’t going to help the citizens of NH homelessness is a huge problem already if it is going to cost 3000 dollars just to move in we all just might as well move to the valley street cemetery with the turkeys pitch tents on our legislators lawns or leave NH all together what a ridiculous idea

  • disqus_g9vTsrR9is

    How horrible! Rents are already double what they should be and too many landlords go about making rental rules that are obstreperous, forgetting that these units are people’s HOMES, not just a hotel room.