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July 2021

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603 Legal Aid The Advocate

A monthly newsletter from 603 Legal Aid

Issue 2 |  July 2021 

See the photo of Bart the dog.

In this issue:

603 Legal Aid = Pro Bono + LARC

CDC eviction moratorium extended

Get help with rent and utility bills

FHFA extends COVID-19 foreclosure and REO eviction moratoriums

A question of law: Family

A question of law: Housing

Good client story #1

Good client story #2

603 Legal Aid

LARC and the New Hampshire Pro Bono Program have merged.

On June 1, the NH Pro Bono Referral Program and the Legal Advice and Referral Center (LARC) merged to become 603 Legal Aid. This merger will greatly increase our capacity to meet the growing need of New Hampshire’s low-income population seeking free legal services.

603 Legal Aid’s new Executive Director, Sonya Bellafant is a former legal aid attorney with many years of experience. Most recently Attorney Bellafant was the Director of the Tennessee Senior Law Alliance. Under her guidance, the services will expand to include full representation for some clients, legal advice and counsel, and referrals to other agencies, according to each client’s needs.

A new feature will be statewide ‘holistic in-take’ to efficiently identify pressing legal issues for New Hampshire’s low-income population.

603 Legal Aid believes this merger makes legal services for New Hampshire’s low-income community stronger than ever!

603 Legal Aid helps NH’s low-income people by giving free legal advice and information by telephone, or a referral to another program for legal help. If you know someone who needs help with a non-criminal legal problem, have them contact 603 Legal Aid.

603 Legal Aid is the starting point to find reliable legal services in NH. Learn more about NH legal aid and the critical role 603 Legal Aid plays. Watch a short video from the NH Judicial Branch website.

Things are changing quickly so be sure to stay updated at NH Legal Aid’s website for LEGAL ISSUES DURING COVID-19 CRISIS.

603 Legal Aid can give legal advice about benefits, housing, and family problems such as

  • eviction
  • custody of a child
  • divorce
  • social security benefits
  • foreclosure

603 Legal Aid can refer people to an attorney to resolve

  • immigration problems,
  • debt collection issues, or
  • to expunge a conviction from their record

603 Legal Aid is here to help the people you serve. We want to serve them, too, by advising them of their legal rights—especially during these uncertain times.

Encourage your clients to call us, or you or your client can apply for legal help from our website.

  • Call 1-800-639-5290 or (603) 224-3333 from 9 AM – 1 PM weekdays,
  • Apply anytime online at NHlegalaid.org,
  • Foreclosure issues call 877-399-9995.

The CDC moratorium on nonpayment evictions is extended to July 31, 2021

On June 24, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control announced that the federal eviction moratorium has been extended for one month. The moratorium was set to expire on June 30, 2021 but will now expire on July 31, 2021.

The CDC also announced that they believed this would be the final extension. This extension was prompted by the backlog of tenants still waiting to receive rental relief funds.

If a tenant has already given their landlord a CDC declaration, there is no need for them to give their landlord a new one. As a reminder, the CDC moratorium applies to tenants who are facing eviction for nonpayment of rent, have had a reduction in income due to COVID-19 and have applied for available rental assistance.

The CDC’s extension provides renters with more time to apply for rental assistance from the NH Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Community Action Partnership (CAP) agencies are processing ERAP applications now. Here is a link to all the CAP agencies in the State: https://www.capnh.org/

Anyone currently facing eviction for nonpayment of rent who has questions about their tenant rights is invited to call 603 Legal Aid or apply for our services from our website.

603 Legal Aid: 1-800-639-5290

603 Legal Aid website: www.nhlegalaid.org

FHFA Extends COVID-19 Foreclosure and REO Eviction Moratoriums to July 31, 2021

On June 24, 2021, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) extended the moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions until July 31, 2021. 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 foreclosure transactions. The current moratoriums were set to expire on June 30, 2021.

This action is the latest step FHFA has taken to benefit homeowners and the mortgage market during the pandemic. FHFA may extend or sunset its policies based on updated data and health risks. Homeowners and renters can visit this site for the latest information on their relief options, protections, and key deadlines.​

Read FHFA's June 24, 2021 press release.

603 Legal Aid's Foreclosure Relief Project: 877-399-9995 or apply online.

A Question of Law: Family

Question: My husband and I purchased our home but only his name is on the deed. I just received divorce papers from him. Do I have any legal interest in the real estate?

Answer: Yes. If the real estate was purchased during the marriage each party has an equal interest in the real estate unless evidence can be shown to persuade the court otherwise.

A Question of Law: Housing

Question: I rent an apartment in a multi-unit building. My landlord just lost the building to foreclosure. Does this mean my tenancy is terminated and I must move?

Answer: The foreclosure does NOT terminate your tenancy, so you do NOT have to move out. The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (12 U.S.C. § 5201) provides protections to bona fide tenants who have a lease, as well as month-to-month tenants. Tenants who entered a bona fide lease before the notice of foreclosure may stay in the rental unit until the end of the lease term. But if the buyer of the foreclosed property intends to move into the rental unit, that buyer may terminate the tenants' lease after giving 90 days' notice. Month-to-month tenants must be given at least 90 days’ notice before having to move out of the property.

Get help with rent and utility bills from NH Emergency Rental Assistance Program (NHERAP)

If you are a NH resident who cannot pay your rent and utility bills due to the COVID -19 pandemic, a new rental assistance program may be able to help. Apply through your Community Action Partnership (CAP) to see if you are eligible. Use the link below.

  • Funds can cover current and past due rent, as well as utility and home energy costs for eligible households.
  • This assistance is available retroactive to April 1, 2020 through the date of application, and the applicant may also receive assistance for these same expenses going forward.
  • Households may receive assistance for a total of 12 months.;
  • Payments will be provided directly to the landlord or utility provider on behalf of the household. Landlords, with the tenant’s permission, may apply for assistance on behalf of their tenant.
  • This program is only for eligible renters and landlords, not homeowners, per federal rules.

To be eligible, at least one person in the household:

  • must qualify for unemployment benefits, had their income reduced,
  • have had significant costs, or
  • had other financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • The household must also be at risk for homelessness and
  • meet certain income requirements.

Go to the program’s website: www.NHHFA.org/emergency-rental-assistance or read the fact sheet: //www.nhhfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/NHERAP-FAQ-web.pdf

Go directly to the CAP website at //www.capnh.org/ to apply.

**Rockingham’s Rental Assistance Program: Rockingham County received additional federal funding to establish a rental assistance program. The eligibility requirements and the application are the same as the NH Emergency Rental Assistance Program being administered through the Community Action Programs. Learn more about it at: http://rockinghamcountynh.org/rent/

Good Client Story #1

New Hampshire Legal Assistance Attorney Steve Tower received a call from Manchester City Welfare on his cell phone during a day off from work. City Welfare was on the phone with a young woman who was terrified and inconsolable, believing that her landlord was going to send men to her apartment to throw her out on the street the next day because her lease was expiring. Her roommate, who paid almost all the $1800 per month rent, had already moved out. The woman could not afford the rent on her $794 of SSI income.

Attorney Tower called the woman to explain that expiration of a lease was not good cause for an eviction, her protection from self-help eviction under RSA 540-A, and the eviction protections for households who lost income during the CDC Eviction Moratorium. Attorney Tower advised her of her eligibility for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and how to apply. Attorney Tower then contacted the property manager to explain that they lacked good cause to evict and could not use self-help eviction, and that the woman would be applying for ERAP funding to ensure rent would be paid going forward. Attorney Tower convinced the property manager to offer the woman a new one-year lease.

About two months later, the woman received her first award of ERAP funding of just under $9,000 for rent and utility arrears, and assistance for the next three months of rent, as well as a notification that she would remain eligible for up to another 12 months of prospective assistance should her financial need remain. As an adult with disabilities who is unable to work, the woman’s need will remain, and she will be eligible for more than $25,000 of assistance during her lease. This assistance will keep her housed safely while she spends the next year looking for more stable and affordable housing.

Good client story #2

Kim was a 44-year-old mother living with her 3 daughters in a mobile home inside a manufactured housing park in central New Hampshire. Kim bought the home 15 years ago and never had a problem managing monthly lot rent - until the pandemic hit. COVID eliminated Kim's job. She eventually fell behind in rent and was served an eviction notice in January. She applied for rental assistance with several organizations but heard nothing. Kim's park hired an attorney who brought her to eviction court in April and won. Kim said the attorney was so aggressive at the hearing that she could not think or talk. She was given 2 months to pack up and move out.

Kim filed a last-ditch motion asking the judge for a second chance. Kim wrote about her many misfortunes during the pandemic, her efforts to get rental assistance, her concern for her daughters, and how she used her tax refund and stimulus money to get current with the park just days before the hearing. The judge granted Kim's motion and a telephonic hearing was set. Not wanting to be caught off guard again, Kim called 603 Legal Aid for help.

603 advised Kim that the judge must have been intrigued after reading about her payment made right before the hearing. The judge would understand, 603 explained to Kim, that if the park failed to inform her the eviction would continue despite the payment, the park would have allowed her to create a new tenancy. 603 speculated that the judge was likely looking for such a legal peg on which to hang her hat. 603 helped Kim craft a written motion to dismiss she would read at the telephonic hearing which argued the creation of a new tenancy.

Kim called 603 with an update after her hearing. "The judge hung her hat on the peg we gave her and dismissed the eviction," Kim exclaimed. "My girls now call me their superhero! Thank you so much for helping me win this fight."

If you know someone who had a good outcome in a legal case due to 603 Legal Aid's help, please share that Good Client Story with us! We would love to share it with our readers. 603 Legal Aid 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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Equal justice for all should not depend on whether you can afford it. Make a difference for New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens by donating to the New Hampshire Campaign for Legal Services. Your donation will provide vital support to the Legal Advice & Referral Center and New Hampshire Legal Assistance. Help us ensure that New Hampshire's poor and elderly have a place to turn when they need legal help.

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