The following is a 2012 Legislative Update from your New Hampshire Association of REALTORS Public Policy Committee, to keep you informed regarding its ongoing mission to protect the rights of our citizens and our members to use, enjoy and convey real estate in New Hampshire.
The legislature has concluded its 2012 session. Here are some of the late session highlights:
Access to Private Lands by Conservation Commissions (HB 514)
Go to: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2012/HB0514
What a long, strange trip it has been for HB 514, relative to entry on private property. Originally introduced in January of 2011, the bill sought to limit the ability of governmental agencies to conduct environmental studies on private land. In November of last year, the House amended the bill and made it into a serious rewriting of New Hampshire’s trespassing laws.
There was enough in the new language to concern appraisers, assessors, municipal officials, law enforcement and REALTORS®. Last week, more than 15 months since the bill’s initial hearing, the Senate basically brought the bill full circle by stripping out all the language the House included last fall, and went back to the original intent of the bill by prohibiting Conservation Commission from conducting studies on private land without the approval of the owner.
The amended version of the bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Landlord/Tenant Bill Fails (HB 1263)
Go to: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2012/HB1263.html
Efforts to repeal the requirement that landlords register with the municipality in which their apartments are located stalled in the Senate. The House had passed the measure last month and the Senate Judiciary Committee also recommended the bill for passage. The full Senate attempted several compromises but each failed.The deadline to take action on the bill has passed, killing it for this session.
State Building and Fire Safety Codes Update (HB 137)
Go to: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2012/HB0137.html
Both the Senate and House agreed on an amended version of HB 137, which revises the state building code and further defines the state’s fire code. The bill updates the NH Building Code with the 2009 International Building Code while also altering the membership of the State Building Code Review Board.
In addition, it authorizes the fire marshal to adopt and enforce a state fire prevention code and clarifies the authority of the fire marshal to inspect and issue permits for state buildings.
Political Squabble Drags Down DES Consolidated Permitting Process Bill (SB 142)
Go to: http://www.gencourt/state/nh.us/legislation/2012/SB0142.html
The Department of Environmental Services (DES) had been working with developers and builders for well over a year to create an integrated land development permit option that may be sought at the discretion of an applicant as an alternative to applying for multiple land development permits. All that work got caught up in a political squabble between the House and Senate over a non-germane amendment dealing with mental health centers. The disagreement eventually killed the entire bill.
Look for this bill to be resurrected next session.
Definition of a “Prime Wetland” Is Tweaked (SB 19)
Go to: http://www.gencourt/state/nh.us/legislation/2012/SB0019.html
The House and the Senate have agreed on changes to the definition of a prime wetland. Currently, a municipality may designate an area as a Prime Wetland, affording it an enhanced level of state protection, including a 100 foot setback requirement. The House wanted to remove the setback and allow each municipality to adopt their own setback requirements.
A compromise version of the bill permits the state to enforce a 100 foot setback requirement on all Prime Wetland established while the 100 ft setback was in statute (2007 to present). The setback requirements on Prime Wetlands established prior to 2007 and after adoption of this bill would be established and enforced by each municipality. A new definition of wetland functions is also included in the bill.
Lawyers and Private Lenders Gain More Freedom under Mortgage Origination Licensing Requirement (HB 247/HB 408)
Go to: http://www.gencourt/state.nh.us/legislation/2012/HB0247.html
The Governor has signed into law a bill which provides an exemption for attorneys working with clients on mortgage loan modifications and origination (Chapter Law 85). In the past, attorneys were reluctant to take on a client involved in certain mortgage issues out of concern of violating the SAFE Act’s mortgage loan origination rule. This new law clarifies that a lawyer does not require a license when working with a client although lawyers are still not permitted to originate a loan without a license.
HB 247 was also signed by the Governor (Chapter Law 50), which permits any non-owner of real property who collectively makes 3 or fewer mortgage loans in a 12 consecutive month period, provided they utilize a licensed mortgage origination.
The law goes into effect on July 13.
Alteration of Terrain Permit Limits Extended (SB 241)
Go to: http://www.gencourt/state.nh.us/legislation/2012/SB0241.html
The new law provides that a terrain alteration permit shall be valid for five years and authorizes an extension of the permit if the applicant meets specified criteria. Permits for ongoing excavation projects last through the life of that project provided a report is sent to DES every five years with a progress update.
New State Requirements for Property Assessments of Damaged Buildings (SB 382)
Go to: http://www.gencourt/state/nh/us/legislation/2012/SB0382.html
Whenever a taxable building is damaged due to unintended fire or natural disaster to the extent that it renders the building not able to be used for its intended use, a towns assessing officials will need to prorate the assessment for the building for the current tax year. The proration of the building assessment is based on the number of days that the building was available for its intended use divided by the number of days in the taxyear, multiplied by the building assessment.