, Derry, New Hampshire


January 31, 2013

Landlords must ensure heat is available

I’ve been having problems with the heat in my apartment. Heat is included in my lease and this winter, the heat has gone off for four and five days in a row.

The landlord and the management company do not respond. What can we do?

Everyone needs heat, especially when extreme cold weather hits. The law in most jurisdictions demands that such basic needs be met.

In New Hampshire, the law states: “No landlord shall willfully cause, directly or indirectly, the interruption or termination of any utility service being supplied to the tenant including, but not limited to ... heat ..., whether or not the utility service is under the control of the landlord.” That’s RSA 540-A:3, I.

So, in a case in which there was no heat in a tenant’s master bedroom from March 23, 2011, until April 14 after city inspectors in Rochester got involved and a case was filed, a court ordered $18,000 in damages. The award was based on the landlord’s willful, intentional failure to repair heating units after notice.

That case bounced up to the N.H. Supreme Court, which upheld the basic order, but sent it back down to the trial court for recalculation of the $1,000 per day violations because the order may have erroneously included some days before the initial lower court had issued an order to get the heat fixed.

The bottom line in Randall v. Abounaja, decided Jan. 11, 2013, in the N.H. Supreme Court is that landlords who ignore calls from tenants and a municipal inspection department face daily penalties for failing to provide heat.

Objections have been filed in my bankruptcy case, claiming that I left out some things including a bank account in my bankruptcy petition.

I forgot things while I was filling out the petition and the problem is that I have ADHD. Isn’t my health condition justification for forgetting things?

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Latest News