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January 2022

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603 Legal Aid The Advocate

A monthly newsletter from 603 Legal Aid

Issue 8 |  January 2022 

See the photo of Bart the dog.

In this issue:

Help for homeowners in trouble

Get help with rent and utility bills

A question of law: bedbugs

Good client story

Who we are:

603 Legal Aid helps NH’s low-income people by providing 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.

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 9 AM – 1 PM weekdays,
  • Apply anytime online at NHlegalaid.org.

Help for homeowners in trouble

If you know a homeowner who:

  • is facing foreclosure, have them call the Foreclosure Relief Project at 603 Legal Aid. We can provide legal advice and referrals to other services. Either call 800-639-5290 or apply online at NHlegalaid.org.
  • is having trouble paying their mortgage, utilities, home insurance or property taxes, have them contact AHEAD for free housing counseling services at (603) 444-1377 or (800) 974-1377. Or call 2-1-1.See AHEAD’s website: //www.homesahead.org/
  • wants to know about the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), tell them it is part of the American Rescue Plan. It will help eligible homeowners who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will likely help with:-mortgage payment assistance and mortgage reinstatement

-homeowner’s association fees or liens, condominium association fees and manufactured home park rent

-homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, mortgage insurance

-property taxes

-utilities, including electric, gas, home energy, water, wastewater

-internet services

The HAF program launches this month.

Learn more at //homehelpnh.org

Homeowners can sign up to get information from HAF at //homehelpnh.org/homeowners/haf

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, you may be eligible for help. Apply through your Community Action Partnership (CAP) at 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 handled by the Community Action Programs. Learn more about it at: http://rockinghamcountynh.org/rent/

A question of law: bedbugs

Q. Can my landlord ask me to repay them for the cost to treat my apartment for bed bugs?

A. Maybe. Landlords are required to pay up-front for all bed bug remediation costs.
Landlords may recover costs for remediation in the tenant’s unit only, and only if tenant is considered “responsible” for the infestation. The tenant is presumed to be “responsible” if only his/her unit has bed bugs and there have no other bed bug reports in the unit or adjacent units in previous six (6) months. Landlords can evict “responsible” tenants for nonpayment, provided the landlord shows that he/she offered tenant a “reasonable repayment agreement.”

Good client story

Mary is a 59-year-old woman who lives alone in her own mobile home within a manufactured housing park on the seacoast. Early this year, the park owner ordered Mary to either tidy up her lot or face eviction. Mary suffers with both physical and emotional problems, but she did her best to comply with the park owner’s demands. However, Mary didn’t move quickly enough to satisfy the owner, and she was served with an eviction notice last summer.

Even after the eviction notice expired this fall, Mary continued to clean up, rake leaves, and throw away trash. Despite her significant progress, the park owner’s attorney brought the eviction into court. Just hours before her hearing in early December, Mary called 603 Legal Aid and asked for help.

603 Legal Aid reviewed her eviction notice and advised Mary that she had a defense. The reason for her eviction was so vague that it was arguably defective. 603 Legal Aid quickly wrote a motion to dismiss that raised this defense, and emailed the motion to Mary. They urged her to file the motion without delay and to hand a copy to the park owner’s attorney. 603 Legal Aid encouraged Mary to tell the judge about all her hard work and progress made in cleaning up her lot.

The day after her hearing, Mary called 603 Legal Aid with this update: “I didn’t have to talk to the judge,” Mary said. “The attorney said he was impressed with the motion to dismiss. He brought me into a conference room and we reached an agreement. I won’t be evicted if I finish cleaning up my lot by May of 2022!”

“I felt reborn after getting that agreement,” Mary continued. “I wish you the best Christmas ever and hope you can help others the way you helped me.”

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@603legalaid.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 -- donate to the New Hampshire Campaign for Legal Services. Your donation will provide vital support to 603 Legal Aid 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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