NH Law About... Rent Withholding

Introduction to... Rent Withholding

Updated February 24, 2017.

The “Read About …” section of this guide refers to resources about the law and will provide context and key terms. “Read the Law …” links to selected laws and should be used as a jumping off point for further research. Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ...  is not a substitute for the services of an attorney. 

Read about... Rent Withholding


New Hampshire Legal Aid. Rent Withholding

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

Under New Hampshire law, a tenant is permitted to withhold rent in certain circumstances and still be protected from eviction for nonpayment. It is never unlawful to withhold rent, and tenants often withhold for various reasons. This discussion concerns withholding rent in order to address serious defects in the apartment threatening health and safety, and how NH law can work to protect tenants. This is a somewhat complicated procedure and must be done very carefully.   GO>

New Hampshire. Dept. of Justice. Consumer Sourcebook. Renting, Security Deposits, and Evictions.  GO>

Link verified on: February 24, 2017


Real Estate / by Charles Szypszak. 2003  GO>

Link verified on: March 23, 2018

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Read the law about... Rent Withholding


RSA 48-A. Housing Standards  GO>

Link verified on: March 13, 2018

RSA 128. Town Health Officers  GO>

Link verified on: March 13, 2018

RSA 540. Actions Against Tenants   GO>

Link verified on: December 18, 2017

RSA 540-A. Prohibited Practices and Security Deposits

Link verified on: March 13, 2018


Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated

Link verified on: June 29, 2018

Find the New Hampshire statutes in print at libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Landlord & Tenant Law Annotated. LexisNexis.  GO>

Link verified on: March 13, 2018

Learn About New Hampshire Statutes: New Hampshire statutes are the laws of the State of New Hampshire as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court. GO>


140 NH 583 (1995). Penrich, Inc. v. Sullivan

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

RSA 205–A:15 and :17 establish a procedure by which tenants of a manufactured housing park may bring a petition alleging health and safety hazards and which provides that the court may, if it finds that such conditions exist, authorize the withholding of rent until the conditions have been abated. The statute plainly makes no allowance for rent withholding absent a court order.   GO>

151 N.H. 82 (2004). Hutchins v. Peabody

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

"We hold that the language of RSA 540:13-d is unambiguous. According to the plain language of the statute, when a premises leased or rented for residential purposes is in substantial violation of the standards of fitness for health and safety, and the violation materially affects the habitability of the premises, the tenant has an affirmative defense to an action for possession based on non-payment of rent."   GO>

2016-0158. Ken Henderson & a. v. Jenny DeCilla

Link verified on: February 24, 2017

RSA 540:13–a provides a defense of retaliation in any possessory action for the tenant's good faith reporting of what the tenant reasonably believes is a violation of RSA chapter 540–A or of certain housing regulations, or for initiating an action in good faith pursuant to RSA chapter 540–A. The defense is not available, however, if the tenant “owes the landlord the equivalent of one week's rent or more.” RSA 540:13–d also provides the tenant with a defense if the leased premises “are in substantial violation of the standards of fitness for health and safety set forth in RSA 48–A or in local codes, ordinances or bylaws established pursuant thereto.” This defense is only available, however, in an action “based on non payment of rent.” Moreover, although RSA 540:13–d provides an affirmative defense to a possessory action based upon nonpayment of rent, nothing in the statute authorizes a tenant, absent a court order, to satisfy a rent obligation by paying such rent into an escrow account.   GO>

Find it in a Library ... New Hampshire Reports

Link verified on: May 18, 2018

Find the New Hampshire Reports in libraries throughout the state.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Cases: New Hampshire case law consists of the published opinions of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. GO>


City of Manchester, NH. Code of Ordinances. Chapter 150 Housing Code

Link verified on: March 13, 2018

This is an example of one city's housing code ordinance establishing minimum standards for heating facilities. Most towns and cities in NH have ordinances online; if not, check with the town.   GO>


New Hampshire. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Health Officer Manual. Housing Standards

Link verified on: April 21, 2017

The Health Officer Health Officer may enforce minimum standards for rental housing, including: safe drinking water, availability of hot water, garbage control, properly functioning septic systems, vermin control, adequate heat, and that walls and roofs do not leak. Health officers are often requested by tenants to inspect rental housing to determine if the rental unit meets the health and safety standards established under RSA 48-A:14.   GO>

New Hampshire Law Library

Link verified on: June 29, 2018

The state's only public law library. Call, email, or visit, we'll be happy to help.   GO>

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