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Legal Issues During COVID-19 Crisis

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NH LEGAL AID is OPEN during the State of Emergency

New COVID Relief Bill: a summary

Unemployment

Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus Checks)

NH Court Information

Governor’s COVID-19 Emergency Orders

Work out a "Pay & Stay" agreement with your landlord

Evictions (Free Help Sessions for Tenants Facing Eviction)

Help with rent

Local Welfare

Foreclosures

Behind on your mortgage?

Utilities

Domestic Violence help

Report suspected Child Abuse or Neglect

COVID 19 Scam Alert

Also see New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA)’s “Community Guidance” blog.

 

New COVID Relief Bill: a summary

Some Help Is on The Way

The new Covid-19 stimulus bill and aid package has passed both houses of Congress and been signed by the President. Here is an overview of the most important provisions:

Stimulus Checks

The new bill includes another round of stimulus payments. Individuals who make less than $75,000 and married couples making under $150,000 can expect to receive direct payments of $1,400 per person.  The bill also provides $1,400 per dependent.  Most checks will be direct-deposited, and those that need to be mailed will take longer to arrive.  To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number.

Housing Relief

The Centers for Disease Control eviction moratorium has been extended until June 30, 2021. This moratorium allows tenants to stay (put on hold) evictions for nonpayment provided they meet certain provisions. More information is in the Eviction section below, and the CDC declaration form is here.

The bill also includes $200 million for rental assistance for New Hampshire residents.  Under the legislation, cities and states can make payments directly to landlords or to utility companies on behalf of renters. If a landlord refuses to accept the rental assistance, cities and states can give assistance directly to the renter, who can then make payments to the landlord or to the utility provider. The assistance funds should be available now.  Please check this website and the Community Action Partnership (CAP) website for more information on eligibility requirements and how to apply for assistance.

Unemployment Benefits

The new aid package will continue the extra federal unemployment benefit of $300 per week through September 6, 2021. Everyone receiving unemployment benefits will be entitled to the $300 weekly supplement.

The legislation extends two programs that have been helping people who lost work due to Covid-19. The bill extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program until September 4, 2021.

This new bill also includes a provision that will make it easier for New Hampshire Employment Security to waive overpayments if the claimant was not at fault and collection of the overpayment would be “against equity and good conscience.”

Also, if your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $150,000, the American Rescue Plan enacted on March 11, 2021, excludes from income up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation paid in 2020, which means you do not have to pay tax on unemployment compensation of up to $10,200.  If you are married, each spouse receiving unemployment compensation does not have to pay tax on unemployment compensation of up to $10,200.  Amounts over $10,200 for each individual are still taxable.  If your modified AGI is $150,000 or more, you cannot exclude any unemployment compensation.  Also, if you file Form 1040-NR, you cannot exclude any unemployment compensation for your spouse.

 

ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENT

The best source for up-to-date information is at the IRS webpage for Economic Impact Payments.

Be sure to read the summary of the new COVID Relief Bill above.

October 15, 2020 was the deadline for non-filers to complete the IRS form to receive their first Economic Impact Payment (EIP). Most people get their Economic Impact payment automatically after filing a tax return (or based on participation in certain federally administered programs), if you are among the "non-filers," you would have needed to take action to get your money (worth up to $1,200 for adults and $500 for qualifying children). Eligible individuals had until October 15, 2020 to file for their EIP last year. Because this deadline has now passed, if you did not file for your EIP before October 15, 2020, you can still claim your EIP payment as a credit on your 2020 federal income tax return.

Also, eligible people with dependent children age 16 and under had until the end of September 2020 to register using the Non-Filers tool on the IRS.gov website in order to receive the first  $500 per child economic impact payments (EIP) before the end of 2020. Individuals who missed the previous short deadlines in the spring and did not register their dependent children with the IRS had until September 30, 2020 to provide this information so that they could receive their payment by December 21, 2020. Eligible individuals include people who receive Social Security retirement, survivor, or disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits or Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and have qualifying children under age 17 but who were not required to file a tax return for 2018 or 2019. These individuals should have already received their own $1,200 first stimulus payment, but were not sent the $500 dependent payment for their qualifying children. Those who already used the non-filer tool after the spring deadlines do not need to re-enter the information about their dependent children, and should have received their $500 payment for each child before the end of 2020. As with the standard EIP mentioned above, if you did not file for the additional $500 EIP for eligible children before September 30, 2020, you can still claim the additional $500 EIP payment per qualifying child as a credit on your 2020 federal income tax return.

For help filing a regular 2020 tax return, call 211 to find someone to help prepare and file the tax return. The deadlines for individuals to file and pay most federal income taxes are extended to May 17, 2021.  Get details on the new tax deadlines and on coronavirus tax relief and Economic Impact Payments.

People who received an EIP prepaid card should activate it or replace it to receive their money. The EIP Card from Money Network Services is not a scam. It is a card being used by the IRS to distribute stimulus payments to some poeple. If you have any doubts or have not received your card, call 800-240-8100. Read more from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here or watch the video below:

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Read more from the IRS here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center

  • The IRS now has a live telephone line dedicated to answering questions about the economic stimulus payments:  (800) 919-9835
  • To check the status of your Economic Impact Payment, go to the "Get My Payment" on the IRS website.
  • If you have questions or concerns about getting your economic stimulus payment, call the

          -Low-Income Taxpayer Project at the NH Bar Association: (603) 715-3215 or email bheggie@nhbar.org.

          -Legal Advice & Referral Center 9 AM - 1 PM on weekdays at 1(800) 639-5290 or to apply online anytime.

 

Q. I didn’t make enough money to file a tax return in either 2018 or 2019. How will the IRS know where to send my Economic Stimulus check?

A. If you were not required to file a tax return in 2018 and 2019 and you do not receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or survivor benefits, Veteran’s benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits, then you can use the "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" application on the IRS website.

If you receive SSI and did not file returns for the 2018 or 2019 tax years and you have a child dependent under age 17, you may have missed the May 5th deadline to provide information about your child dependents to the IRS. If you missed this May 5th deadline, you must wait until 2021 and claim the dependent payment when you file your 2020 tax return. Only your dependent payment is affected. You will still get the $1,200 payment automatically despite missing the May 5th deadline to provide information to the IRS about your dependents.

 

Q. I didn’t receive my EIP and I can’t wait on the phone to speak to someone about what happened to it. How can I let the IRS know that I didn’t get my payment?

A. You can fill out IRS form 3911. Enter “2020” as the tax period, leaving the date filed blank. Also, you will need to write “EIP” at the top of the form. For New Hampshire residents, you can fax the completed form to 855-253-3175, or mail it by USPS to the Andover IRS Service Center, 310 Lowell Street, Andover, MA 01810.

NH COURTS

NH courts are open on a restricted basis.  Physical access to courts has been restricted to emergency cases.  See the latest information at: Judicial Branch response to COVID-19

NH courts are closed for non-emergency proceedings through July 6th or the last day of a Declared State of Emergency.  There is an exception for all 540 and 540-A proceedings filed on or after July 1st.

Individuals entering State of New Hampshire courthouses must wear face covers that cover the mouth and nose. The Judicial Branch recommends that people use their own face coverings, but will provide face coverings for people who do not have their own.  This rule does not apply to anyone for whom the wearing of a mask would be contrary to their health or safety. Read the Order.

Telephone access to the courts is fully available during this time.  For questions related to Superior Court or Circuit Court cases, please call 1-855-212-1234. For questions related to Supreme Court, please contact the clerk’s office at (603) 271-2646.

GOVERNOR’S COVID-19 EMERGENCY ORDERS

Read the Orders.

EVICTIONS

Free Help Sessions for Tenants Facing Eviction

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Twice a month - Online

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New Hampshire Legal Assistance (NHLA) and the Legal Advice and Referral Center (LARC) offer free online help sessions twice a month for tenants facing eviction.

During these Eviction Clinics, legal aid attorneys and paralegals will explain tenants’ rights during an eviction and answer questions. They cannot provide legal advice for specific cases at the clinics.

The sessions will be recorded and available on NHLA’s website.

NO SIGN UP NECESSARY

When:   Wednesday:  March 24, April 7 and 21 from 2-3:30 PM       

Where:  via Zoom.  Get the link  at nhla.org and NHLA’s Facebook page under ‘events.’

More information:  call 1-800-639-5290.

 

 

Be sure to read the summary of the new COVID Relief Bill above.

CDC eviction moratorium extended to June 30, 2021

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) extended its moratorium on nonpayment of rent evictions to June 30, 2021.

The eviction moratorium puts a hold on the eviction process until after June 30th for evictions based on nonpayment of rent.

To qualify for the protections of the moratorium, every adult in the household must give their landlord a signed CDC declaration and meet these five conditions:

  1. You have used best efforts to obtain all government assistance for rent (For example: you applied to your local welfare office and the NH Emergency Rental Assistance Program);
  2. You expect you will not earn more than $99,000 in 2021;
  3. You are unable to pay rent due to a substantial loss of household income, loss of hours at work, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  4. You have used best efforts to make partial payments to your landlord if you are able to;
  5. If you are evicted, you would likely be homeless or forced to move into a situation where you would be living in close quarters with others.

If you are a tenant who has already given your landlord a CDC declaration, you should not need to give your landlord a new one -- but there is no harm in doing so.

The new declaration is much clearer and easier to use. See the updated CDC Declaration form.

If you have been unable to pay your rent due to a loss of employment or hours at work, you should apply for the NH Emergency Rental Assistance Program as soon as possible at www.capnh.org.

Tenants are urged to contact LARC at 800-639-5290 if they have any questions about the CDC Moratorium.

 

FHFA Extends REO Eviction Moratorium until at least January 31, 2021: eviction moratorium applies to Enterprise-owned properties. Read more.

If you are facing eviction, read this important information and call LARC 800-639-5290 or apply online.

HELP WITH RENT

New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program - Learn about the new $200 million rental and utility relief program: how to apply and who is eligible. Go to the program's website or read the fact sheet.

The program covers past-due and future rent payments; utilities, such as electricity, home heating costs, water, sewer, trash; and other housing-related costs such as internet, reasonable late fees, and relocation expenses associated directly or indirectly with COVID-19. Relocation expenses including rental application fees, utility hook-up fees, and security deposits are eligible. 

Local Community Action Programs (CAP) will be in charge of distributing money to people in need of rental assistance around the state.

If you are behind on rent:

  • Apply for rental assistance at a Town or City welfare office.  If you have problems applying for welfare or to challenge welfare’s denial of rental assistance, call New Hampshire Legal Assistance at 1-800-921-1115, ext 4.
  • Apply for rental assistance at your nearest Community Action Partnerships (CAP). Call NH Helpline at 2-1-1 for the phone number of your nearest CAP.  Call CAP or go to www.capnh.org where you will see an “apply now” button with an online application. 
  • For additional assistance, contact the DHHS Bureau of Housing Supports at 603-271-9196, or email dhhs.bhhs@dhhs.nh.gov

If you are facing eviction, read this important information and call LARC at 800-639-5290 or apply online

If you need help finding food, paying housing bills, or other essential services, dial 211 to speak to someone who can help.

FORECLOSURES

FHFA Extends REO Eviction Moratorium until at least January 31, 2021: Foreclosure moratorium applies to Enterprise-backed mortgages. Read more

Governor Sununu issued Emergency Orders #4 and #24 stopping foreclosures. All judicial and non-judicial foreclosure actions were prohibited during the state of emergency.

In Executive Order #51, the Governor announced that the foreclosure moratorium ended as of July 1, 2020. 

Read Emergency Orders #4, #24 and #51 (link above).

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will extend the moratoria on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions until at least December 31, 2020.  The foreclosure moratorium applies to Enterprise-backed, single-family mortgages only.  The REO eviction moratorium applies to properties that have been acquired by an Enterprise through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosures transactions.  The current moratoria were set to expire on August 31, 2020.  Read more about mortgage and housing assistance during the COVID-19 crisis here.

If you are facing foreclosure, call LARC’s Foreclosure Relief Project at 877-399-9995 or apply online.

BEHIND ON YOUR MORTGAGE?

Watch the video about the CARES Act mortgage forbearance.

Learn what to do once you get a forbearance.

Learn about mortgage relief options.  Read more about mortgage and housing assistance during COVID here.

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. Housing Counselors help homeowners free-of-charge to explore the options that are available in each individual situation.

If you are behind on mortgage payments due to COVID-19, apply for help If you are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19, contact your local Community Action Partnership (CAP) agency or call 2-1-1 from any NH phone. New Hampshire Housing Relief applications are available through your local CAP agencies.

If you need help finding food, paying housing bills, or other essential services, dial 211 to speak to someone who can help.
 

UTILITIES

New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program - Learn about the new $200 million rental and utility relief program: how to apply and who is eligible. Go to the program's website or read the fact sheet.

The program covers past-due and future rent payments; utilities, such as electricity, home heating costs, water, sewer, trash; and other housing-related costs such as internet, reasonable late fees, and relocation expenses associated directly or indirectly with COVID-19. Relocation expenses including rental application fees, utility hook-up fees, and security deposits are eligible. 

On July 15, 2020, Emergency Order #3 ended.  Order #3 stopped the shut-off of utilities during the state of emergency.  A new Emergency Order, #58, requires that the utilities set up a 6-month payment plan for customers to deal with payments they owe. 

Read Emergency Orders #3 and #58 (link above).

 

If your utilities have been shut off or you have related problems, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 603-271-3641 or email DOJ-CPB@doj.nh.gov.

If you are behind on utility bills due to COVID-19, apply for help If you are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19, contact your local Community Action Partnership (CAP) agency or call 2-1-1 from any NH phone. New Hampshire Housing Relief applications are available through your local CAP agencies.

If you need help finding food, paying housing bills, or other essential services, dial 211 to speak to someone who can help.

 

HELP WITH UTILITIES:

According to HUD, if you need help paying your utility bills, contact one of these organizations.

Visit the HUD.gov web page that deals with this issue.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Be sure to read the summary of the new COVID Relief Bill above.

Governor Sununu issued Emergency Orders expanding Unemployment. Individuals who are unable to work or who have reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have immediate access to unemployment benefits.

Read Emergency Order #5 (link above).

  • NH Employment Security main website.
  • To file an initial claim, to file a weekly continued claim or to check the status of an existing claim, visit this webpage.
  • Call 603-271-7700 Hotline open 8 AM to 8 PM Monday through Friday and 9 AM to 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday.

This information may have been updated. Call the Hotline number above for the latest information.

LOCAL WELFARE

Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order #23 that allows Local Welfare offices to transition to operating on-line, phone, or limited appointment -only operation, but Local Welfare must continue to do its job.

Read Emergency Order #23 (link above).

If you have any problems with Local Welfare, call NH Legal Assistance at 603-223-9750 or 1-800-921-1115 and press 4. If you must leave a message, be sure to say you are calling about Local Welfare and state any deadlines you have.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic Violence:  1-866-644-3574

Sexual Assault:  1-800-277-5570

NH Coalition Agsint Domestic & Sexual Violence: https://www.nhcadsv.org/

CHILD ABUSE or NEGLECT

NH Law requires any person who suspects that a child under age 18 has been abused or neglected must report that suspicion immediately to Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). (New Hampshire RSA 169-C:29-31)

If a child tells you that he or she has been hurt or you are concerned that a child may be the victim of any type of abuse or neglect, you must call the DCYF Central Intake Unit at:
Telephone: (800) 894-5533 (in-state) or (603) 271-6562 (out of state)
24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays.
For immediate emergencies, please call 911.
Proof of abuse and neglect is not required to make a report.
Reports of abuse and neglect concerns are confidential and can be anonymous.

Learn more about stopping child abuse and neglect here.

Date: 
May 2020, updated March 2021
Author: 
LARC

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