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Legal Issues During COVID-19 Crisis

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NH LEGAL AID is OPEN during the State of Emergency.

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

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.

ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENT

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IMPORTANT NOTICES:

October 15, 2020 is the deadline for non-filers to complete the IRS form to receive their 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 must take action to get your money (worth up to $1,200 for adults and $500 for qualifying children). Eligible individuals have until October 15 to file for their EIP this year. Currently, once these deadlines pass, individuals will have to claim their EIP payment as a credit on their 2020 federal income tax return.

Also, eligible people with dependent children have until the end of September to register using the Non-Filers tool on the IRS.gov website in order to receive $500 per child economic impact payments (EIP) before the end of 2020. Individuals who missed the previous short deadlines in the spring and have not registered their dependent children with the IRS have until September 30, 2020 to provide this information so that they can receive their payment this year. 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 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 will now be receiving their $500 payment for each child before the end of this year.

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" page of the IRS website: //www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment
  • 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 found on the IRS.gov website at: //www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here

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:

CDC EVICTION BAN

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a ban on most evictions, including evictions for nonpayment of rent, to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. This ban became effective on September 4, 2020 and will remain in effect through the end of this year. Take note that landlords are still allowed to evict tenants during the CDC’s ban for reasons like illegal activity, dangerous behavior, or destruction of property.

NH tenants, to be eligible for protection under the CDC’s eviction ban, must take the following steps:

  1. Apply for rental assistance at their Town/City Welfare office and Community Action Program (CAP);
  2. Pay their landlord what they can afford;
  3. All adults in the rental unit must complete a form called a declaration and deliver the declaration to the landlord. The declaration informs the landlord of the tenant’s financial problems, the tenant’s good faith attempts to get rental assistance from local welfare and CAP, and the tenant’s promise to pay the landlord what they can afford. Tenants should make a copy of their signed and dated declaration for their records before giving the original to the landlord. Here is a link to the CDC’s declaration form: https://nhlegalaid.org/files/cdc-declaration-larcnh.pdf

When the CDC’s eviction ban ends after December 31st, 2020, tenants will become responsible for all overdue rent and possibly associated penalties, fees, or interest.

If you know a tenant who is facing eviction or has already lost an eviction hearing and is awaiting a sheriff’s lockout, encourage them to call the Legal Advice & Referral Center for more information and help.

LARC’s toll-free phonelines are open weekdays 9 AM – 1 PM: 1-800-639-5290

LARC’s website to submit an online application: www.larcnh.org

Read more here.

Read the NY Times article from 9/16/2020 that states in part,  "In New Hampshire, the state's Supreme Court has put the onus on the landlords. An order from the court said they must file affidavits stating that they are in compliance with the C.D.C. order before commencing an eviction proceeding and must notify the court if at any point a tenant signs a declaration saying she can't pay rent because of the pandemic."

See the CDC Declaration form with an extra warning to landlords.

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Governor Sununu issued Emergency Orders stopping non-payment evictions during the State of Emergency. Landlords are not allowed to start eviction proceedings for those unable to pay due to their financial situation. To do so would be against the law. Renters must still pay rent or work out a payment arrangement with their landlord. Legal Advice and Referral Center added an extra paragraph at the bottom of the form that warns landlords about the consequences of violating the order.

On June 5, Governor Sununu extended the state of emergency for another 21 days, until June 26.

On June 11, the Governor announced that the eviction moratorium will end as of July 1, 2020.

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

If you are being evicted because you owe rent for the period March 17 to June 11, 2020, your landlord is required to serve a 30-day eviction notice instead of the usual 7-day non-payment notice.  This gives you a longer “cure” period meaning you have more time to apply for and get help to pay.

You can apply to a Community Action Agency (CAA) and the NH Housing Authority (NHH) for help with past-due rent that you owe because your household lost income or incurred added expenses due to COVID-19.  Some agencies received money from the federal government for this purpose.  For help to pay back rent, you can also apply to your town or city welfare office (see more information here).  See also the "Help With Rent" section below this one. If you apply for help and have any difficulty with any of these programs, call LARC at 224-3333 or 1-800-639-5290 between 9 AM and 1 PM weekdays, or apply online anytime. 

In NH, a tenant can stop (or “cure”) a non-payment eviction if the tenant pays the full amount of the past-due rent plus a $15 fee by the expiration date on the eviction notice, as long as the tenant has not already cured 3 non-payment evictions in the past 12 months.

If you are renting from an owner who has a federally-backed mortgage, the CARES Act provides for a suspension or moratorium on evictions. If your landlord has a federally backed mortgage or multi-family mortgage, you cannot be evicted for 120 days beginning on March 27, 2020, the effective date of the CARES Act. After the 120-day period is up, the landlord must start any eviction action against you with a 30-day notice, even if it is for non-payment or some other reason which might ordinarily allow a 7-day eviction notice.

Read more about your protections as a tenant whose landlord has a federally backed mortgage. Go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) website here. If the property you rent isn’t covered by the CARES Act, many states have suspended all evictions and foreclosures due to the pandemic.

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The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will extend themoratoriums 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 moratoriums were set to expire on August 31, 2020. Learn more about mortgage and housing assistance during the COVID-19 crisis here.

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

HELP WITH RENT:

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:

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 themoratoriums 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 moratoriums 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 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 and need help, apply at www.capnh.org.  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:

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 and need help, apply at www.capnh.org.  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.

UNEMPLOYMENT:

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: //www.nhes.nh.gov/
  • To file an initial claim, to file a weekly continued claim or to check the status of an existing claim, visit //www.unemploymentbenefits.nh.gov/
  • 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 September 2020
Author: 
LARC

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