PROCEEDINGS IN SPECIAL CASES
ACTIONS AGAINST TENANTS
540:13-d Defenses to Violations of Fitness.
I. No action for possession based on nonpayment of rent shall be maintained in regard to any premises leased or rented for residential purposes, other than for vacation or recreation, if such 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, and such violation materially affects the habitability of said premises, provided that:
(a) The tenant proves by clear and convincing evidence that, while not in arrears in rent, he provided notice of the violation to the person to whom he customarily pays rent; and
(b) The landlord failed to correct the violations within 14 days of the receipt of such written notice or, in an emergency, as promptly as conditions require; and
(c) The violations were not caused by the tenant, a member of the tenant's family or other person on the premises with the tenant's consent; and
(d) Necessary repairs have not been prevented due to extreme weather conditions or due to the failure of the tenant to allow the landlord reasonable access to the premises.
II. If a defendant raises a defense provided in paragraph I of this section, the court may order the action continued for a reasonable time not to exceed one month to enable the plaintiff to remedy the violation. At the time such continuance is ordered, the court shall require the person claiming a defense under this section to pay into court any rent withheld or becoming due thereafter as it becomes due. Upon a finding by the court that the violation has been remedied within the continuance period, the court shall dismiss the possessory action and either award the withheld rent money to the plaintiff or apportion the rent paid into court by paying to the plaintiff the fair rental value of the premises while in the substantially defective condition and by awarding the remainder of said funds to the defendant as damages for plaintiff's breach of his warranty of habitability. If the violation has not been remedied within such period, the court shall enter judgment for the defendant and refund to the defendant all money deposited.
Source. 1979, 305:5. 1985, 249:6, 7, eff. Aug. 6, 1985.