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There is No Free Money

State of NH SealIn March 2020 Governor Sununu stated that, Pursuant to Section 18 of Executive Order 2020-04 it is hereby ordered, effective immediately, that:

  1. “No owner of non-restricted property or restricted property, as those terms are defined in RSA 540: 1-a, may initiate eviction proceedings under RSA 540 during the State of Emergency declared in Executive Order 2020-04 and no eviction order shall be issued or enforced during the State of Emergency declared in Executive Order 2020-04. All applicable provisions of RSA 540 or any law, rule or other regulation which would allow for the initiation of eviction proceedings or the issuance of an eviction order are hereby suspended for the duration of the State of Emergency declared in Executive Order 2020-04.”
  2. Any violation of Section 1 this Order by a landlord, as that term is defined in RSA 540-A: 1, shall be considered a prohibited act under and a violation of RSA 540-A:3.
  3. All judicial and non-judicial foreclosure actions under RSA 4 79 or any other applicable law, rule or regulation are hereby prohibited during the State of Emergency declared in Executive Order 2020-04, and all applicable provisions of any law, rule, or other regulation which would allow for the initiation of foreclosure proceedings are hereby suspended for the duration of the State of Emergency declared in Executive Order 2020-04.
  4. No provision in this Order shall be construed as relieving an individual of their obligations to pay rent, make mortgage payments, or any other obligation which an individual may have under a tenancy or mortgage.
  5. The Attorney General shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of this Order through any methods provided by current law.”

What does all this mean? In short – due to a previous Executive Order, consumers cannot be evicted or foreclosed on their residence until the original order is lifted.  What it doesn’t mean is that consumers are not liable to pay their rent or mortgage, it just gives them some wiggle room during the pandemic to create and adapt an emergency household budget or find other financial resources to pay these debts.

It’s important to note that once the original order is lifted, any outstanding utilities, rent and mortgage payments are due. So, what’s the best action for consumers who can’t meet these financial obligations?  Don’t ignore your creditors, pick up the phone and talk to real person authorized to help you make and keep a realistic plan, so you aren’t stuck with a pile of debt once the Emergency Order is lifted.  Some Utility companies have funds that may be able to help you with a one-time payment assistance.  Depending on your landlord and their own debt obligation they may be willing to let you spread your payments over time; however, be cautious about getting caught into a trap that sucks you into paying extra rent for an excessive period of time.  Mortgage lenders have the ability to put your account into a forbearance or deferment status. Again, be aware of any fees that come along with those benefits and how the repayment of them works.

Despite what many people believe, evictions and foreclosures cost money to the landlord and lien holder, they don’t make money from it and ultimately, they want to keep you in your home or rental. So as soon as you know you are in a financial crisis, pick up the phone and call each and every creditor to develop a plan. This is a nationwide crisis, we’re all in this together and we’ll all come out of it together.

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