Wednesday, May 13, 2015
by Sabin R. Maxwell, Esq.
The initial security deposit charged at the outset of the tenancy seems at first glance a straightforward transaction. However, under New Hampshire law, there are certain pitfalls that the landlord must keep in mind relative to charges to the tenant that go beyond base rent.
Excessive Security Deposit
The easiest trap for a landlord to fall into relative to typical charges passed onto the tenant is charging for items not intuitively understood as part of a security deposit. One common example is a "pet deposit." In New Hampshire, "security deposit" is defined very broadly by statute as "all funds in excess of the monthly rent which are transferred from the tenant to the landlord for any purpose." RSA 540-A:5, II.
Thus, the default position is that any charge beyond base rent, regardless of whether charged at the outset of the tenancy or during tenancy, is considered part of the security deposit.