Submitted: November 13, 2018
Circuit Court-Nashua District Division
Natalie Anderson, self-represented party, by brief.
Wagner, ALC, of Atlanta, Georgia (Karl M. Terrell on the
brief), and Snow Law Office, of Nashua (R. Brian Snow on the
brief), for the defendant.
plaintiff, Natalie Anderson, appeals the Circuit Court's
(Moore, J.) entry of judgment in favor of the
defendant, Adam Robitaille, on her petition seeking damages
and other relief pursuant to RSA chapter 540-A. See
RSA ch. 540-A (2007 & Supp. 2018). The primary issue on
appeal is whether the plaintiff and her husband were
"tenants" entitled to remedies under that chapter.
The trial court concluded that they were not
"tenants," and, thus, were not entitled to RSA
chapter 540-A remedies. We affirm.
briefly recite the facts necessary to decide this appeal. The
defendant is the general manager of the Homewood Suites by
Hilton (Homewood) hotel in Nashua. Homewood is a branded
product of Hilton Worldwide, Inc. and is an all-suite
residential-style hotel. Individuals may stay at Homewood for
durations of any length, including extended stays.
November 2015, the plaintiff and her husband began residing
at Homewood. According to the plaintiff, she and her husband
shared a full-size apartment with a fully-equipped kitchen, a
separate bedroom, separate bathroom, spacious living room,
and a dining area. They were charged $84 per night plus tax
for the unit. Their stay was originally intended to last
approximately one year. The plaintiff asserts that their stay
was extended until May 2017.
to the plaintiff, on or about January 4, 2017, the defendant
informed her by e-mail that her stay would not be extended
past January 6. The plaintiff contends that the deadline was
later extended to January 10. She asserts that she and her
husband were told that if they did not leave on January 10,
the police would be called.
plaintiff brought the instant petition under RSA chapter
540-A on January 9, requesting, in addition to statutory
damages, that the trial court enjoin the defendant from
ejecting her and her husband from their residential unit.
defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's
action, to which she objected. Both parties appended to their
pleadings documentary evidence to support their assertions.
At a January 18 hearing, the parties agreed that the
dispositive issue before the court was whether the plaintiff
and her husband were "tenants" entitled to remedies
under RSA chapter 540-A. They further agreed that the court
could decide the matter based upon the parties'
pleadings. The trial court found in favor of the defendant,
concluding that the plaintiff and her husband were not
"tenants" entitled to RSA chapter 540-A remedies.
The plaintiff unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration, and
this appeal followed.
the plaintiff's appeal requires that we engage in
statutory interpretation. We review the trial court's
statutory interpretation de novo. See State v.
Exxon Mobil Corp., 168 N.H. 211, 223 (2015). In matters
of statutory interpretation, we are the final arbiter of the
intent of the legislature as expressed in the words of the
statute considered as a whole. Conduent State & Local
Solutions v. N.H. Dep't of Transp., 171 N.H.,
(decided Oct. 16, 2018) (slip op. at 5). We first look to the
language of the statute itself, and, if possible, construe
that language according to its plain and ordinary meaning.
Id. Moreover, we do not consider words and phrases
in isolation, but rather within the context of the statute as
a whole. Id. This enables us to better discern the
legislature's intent and to interpret statutory language
in light of the policy or purpose sought to be advanced by
the statutory scheme. Id.
interpret legislative intent from the statute as written and
will not consider what the legislature might have said or add
language that the legislature did not see fit to include.
Id. Absent an ambiguity, we will not look beyond the
language of the statute to discern legislative intent.
Id. We also construe all parts of a statute together
to effectuate its overall purpose and avoid an absurd or
unjust result. Id. However, we do not construe
statutes in isolation; instead, we attempt to construe them
in harmony with the overall statutory scheme. In the
Matter of Aldrich & Gauthier, 156 N.H. 33, 35
chapter 540-A "regulates the relationship between
landlords and tenants of 'residential'
premises." Hill v. Dobrowolski, 125 N.H. 572,
574 (1984). It defines a landlord as one who "rents or
leases," and a tenant as one "to whom a landlord
rents or leases," such property. Id.
(quotations omitted); see RSA 540-A:1, I-II (2007).
RSA 540-A:2 generally prohibits a landlord from
"willfully violat[ing] a tenant's right to quiet
enjoyment of his tenancy" and from willfully
"attempt[ing] to circumvent lawful procedures for
eviction under RSA [chapter] 540." RSA 540-A:2 (2007).
RSA 540-A:3 "forbids a series of specific acts,"
such as "willfully denying a tenant access to and
possession of the ...