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July 2020

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The LARC Advocate

“We stand alone, together.”

 

A monthly newsletter from

the Legal Advice & Referral Center

Issue 5 | JULY 2020

 

In this issue:

When should I wear a face mask?

A Question of Law: Can a DV victim file a DV petition without going to court?

A QUESTION OF LAW: How many days’ notice must an Eviction Notice give?

News and Information for the Low-Income Community

Good Client Story

 

When should I wear a face mask?

When should you wear a face mask?

The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering as it helps protect people around you if you are infected, even if you have no symptoms. The CDC recommends you do NOT use a face mask meant for health care workers.

Children age two and older should also wear a face covering. Make sure to check that the coverings on children are secure, and that the children can still breathe properly. Young children under age two, anyone who has trouble breathing or is not able to remove the cloth face covering without assistance, should not wear one.

Remember that protective face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing. You should still stay at least six feet away from other people, clean your hands often and take other preventive measures. However, protective face coverings are important when you are close to another person; when you are away from other people, you do not need to wear a face covering.

To remove your face mask, start by sanitizing your hands. Then untie the mask strings behind your head or stretch the mask ear loops to lift it off your face. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing it. After taking the mask off, fold the outside corners together. If it is reusable, hand wash it for at least 20 seconds with warm to hot soapy water or put it in the washing machine using hot water, then put it in the dryer on low or air dry. If you do not have time to wash it immediately, place it in a paper bag so it can dry out which will help prevent contaminating other surfaces. Then wash your hands with soap and water.

Finally, you should replace your face covering when it shows signs of wear or has holes or rips.

 

A QUESTION OF LAW: Can a DV victim file a DV petition without going to court?

Q. I am a victim of domestic violence but because of COVID-19, I don’t feel safe entering the court building. Can I still file a domestic violence petition?

A. Yes. You can file your petition with the court electronically.The electronic filing system is a safe and private way for domestic violence survivors to ask the court for protective orders.

To file electronically, contact a Crisis Center or Family Justice Center to get links to the online forms. Once you submit the forms, the court gives the file priority status. If necessary, the court may contact you so that a judge can go over the forms with you. If the judge grants the petition, the court will issue an immediate protective order and then schedule the matter for a hearing. This hearing can be held over the phone. The court will also ask if you want to get the order in person, in the mail, or by email.

It is your option as to whether you choose to email the Domestic Violence or Stalking Petition to the court when working with a Crisis Center or Family Justice Center. You may still file the court forms in person at any Circuit Court location.

For more information on how to get an order of protection, a checklist, forms, and helpful videos, see the NH Judicial Branch website: https://www.courts.state.nh.us/fdpp/dv_petitions.htm

 

A QUESTION OF LAW:  How many days' notice must an Eviction Notice give?

Q. Must an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent currently give the tenant a minimum of 30 days to pay off the rental arrearage and preserve the tenancy, or can the eviction notice still give just 7 days’ notice?

A. Per Governor Sununu’s Emergency Order # 51, if the tenant owes rent for the period between March 17, 2020 and June 11, 2020 and this forms the basis of the eviction either in whole or in part, the eviction notice must provide the tenant with at least 30 days’ notice to pay the rental arrearage and preserve the tenancy. Please see Emergency Order # 51

If you were current on your rent up to June 30th, but then did not pay your rent that was due on July 1, 2020, you could still get an Eviction Notice giving you just 7 days’ notice.

The above information is not a complete guide to the law. It is meant to serve as an aid in assessing possible legal options and is not meant to replace the services of a lawyer. Be advised that changes in the law affecting this subject matter could occur at any time.

 

NEWS AND INFORMATION FOR THE LOW-INCOME COMMUNITY

Free Legal Advice and Referrals:

LARC is an essential service and remains open during the State of Emergency. We advise low-income people of their legal rights in non-criminal matters. Call 800-639-5290 between 9 AM and 1 PM weekdays, or apply online at anytime. LARC gives free legal advice by telephone and makes referrals to partner agencies: NH Legal Aid and the Pro Bono Program.

Help for those struggling with mortgage payments:

Many homeowners are behind on mortgage payments. Servicers and other financial institutions have options available. To learn what they are and what to do, watch a short video from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

This guide explains more about mortgage relief options.

Housing counselors can help free-of-charge to explore options for each situation. Call 211 to find a HUD-approved Housing Counselor (just dial 2-1-1). Multilingual assistance and TDD access is also available. For those outside of New Hampshire, call 1-866-444-4211. or go to the 211 website here.

Homeowners who are behind on mortgage payments due to COVID-19 can apply for financial help. Direct them to www.capnh.org. &or to call their local CAP agency or call 2-1-1 from any NH phone.

If foreclosure is imminent, they can apply for free legal advice from LARC’s Foreclosure Relief Project (FRP): leave a message at 877-399-9995 or apply online.

Community Guidance for the COVID-19 crisis from NHLA:

New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA) offers a detailed guide with up-to-date information on state and federal assistance and other programs available to people in need with links to apply or to get more information. See NHLA’s Community Guidance for the CIVOD-19 crisis also available on the homepage of their website, nhla.org.

Topics covered in this guide include CARES Act stimulus payments; Social Security Benefits; Unemployment Insurance Benefits; Utilities support; Food Stamps; Cash Assistance; Medicaid; Domestic Violence; Housing; Senior and Consumer Law; and Youth Law/Education.

NHLA hopes you will share this resource with your community and clients: //www.nhla.org/blog/NHLA-Community-Guidance-for-COVID-19-crisis-entry-76

 

GOOD CLIENT STORY

The June issue of The LARC Advocate ran a story about “Lisa,” a 26-year-old woman living alone in an apartment in northern NH. Lisa’s landlord led prospective buyers on a tour of her apartment in May during the COVID-19 pandemic. When Lisa politely expressed concern and suggested that virtual tours were a safer option, she was handed an eviction notice. At that time, LARC advised Lisa of her tenant rights and urged the young woman to call back if anything new happened.

Lisa called back in early June after her landlord unlawfully entered her apartment. She shared a text thread started by her landlord on Saturday, May 30th, at 9AM:

Landlord: “There will be a showing @ 2:30 this afternoon.”

Lisa: “That’s not even 24 hour notice and I will not allow it.”

Landlord: “All the same we will be there @ 2:30.”

LARC helped Lisa file a lawsuit against the landlord and obtain a court order that restrained him from barging in like that again. LARC coached Lisa on how to argue her case at the upcoming hearing. And finally, LARC advised Lisa to file the text thread at court so the judge could read it.

After the hearing, Lisa forwarded the judge’s decision to LARC. The judge ruled that the landlord had violated the law and ordered him to pay Lisa $1,000 in penalties.

“I couldn’t have done this without you,” Lisa told LARC. “I don’t even care about the money. I am just so proud of myself for standing up to such awful behavior.”

Lisa moved from her north country apartment into a better place that was much closer to her job. Lisa also accepted LARC’s offer to sit on the board of Legal Aid as a community board member. She hopes to use her experience to help other tenants understand their rights and find justice.

If you know someone who had a good outcome in a legal case due to LARC’s help, please share that Good Client Story with us! We would love to share it with our readers. LARC will never use a client’s real name or any facts that could reveal who that client is. Send your Good Client Stories to: webmaster@larcnh.org and put “Good Client Story” in the subject line.

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