Nh Tenants Facing Eviction Struggle As Few Rentals Available

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The new owners of a small rental building are asking their long-term tenants to leave so they can renovate, but the lack of affordable housing in the New Hampshire is making it hard for those tenants to find another place to live.

The new landlords of the five-unit apartment complex in Penacook purchased in March notified tenants they had to leave by July 6, but some are asking for an extension in housing court, the Concord Monitor reported.

New owners Derek Lawton and Sean Engel said that they intend to rent the renovated apartments at market rates. They said they initially offered tenants $500 payment to leave before continuing with the eviction.

One of the tenants, Linda McKenna, she was never offered a cash payment, just the return of her security deposit. She has lived in her apartment for 30 years with her family and rescue animals.

“Everybody’s in the same boat that I am. They can’t find anything out there that’s affordable," McKenna said.

According to a survey from New Hampshire Housing, in the last eight years, rent in the state has been rising incrementally. Even if tenants can afford to pay a higher rent, there are still few options available.

The Merrimack County vacancy rate is 0.4%, which is lower than the state's 0.9%. The report said that a fair vacancy rate for landlords and tenants is 5%.

McKenna said she has applied to 10 to 15 apartments, but none of them are affordable.

Concord Housing and Redevelopment Executive Director John Hoyt said the housing shortage couldn't be fixed even if they built tens of new units.

“It’s going to be a long-term problem,” he said.

The lack of housing is an issue that Gov. Chris Sununu is attempting to address in a plan revealed last week in partnership with the New Hampshire Council on Housing Stability that would build 13,500 new housing units in the next three years.

In the meantime, the tenants at 29 Washington St. are fighting to avoid homelessness.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” McKenna said.

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This story has been corrected to show that the apartment building is located in Penacook, not Nashua.