Legislative Update April 16, 2019

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Legislative Update
April 16, 2019

Older septic systems may be studied

By BOB QUINN
Vice President of Government Affairs

Here are a few items being explored in the New Hampshire legislature that are of potential interest to the real estate community and being watched closely by your New Hampshire REALTORS government affairs team:

Legislature wants to study septic

House Bill 475 would create a study commission to look at septic systems installed without state approval. Septic systems constructed prior to 1967, when inspections and state approval were first required, include some systems that the Department of Environmental Services believe inadequately treat wastewater.

The problem is that no one knows how many pre-1967 systems are still operational or where they are located. So it is unclear what the potential threat is to the water quality of New Hampshire’s lakes, ponds, and rivers. NHAR is one of fourteen members of Commission. The legislation will be heading to the Governor’s desk for his signature later this month. The Commission’s first meeting will be in fall.

Agreement reached on updates to fire and building code; ‘opt-out’ provision shelved

The House heard testimony on Senate Bill 49, which updates the state fire code to the 2015 version – New Hampshire is currently working under the 2009 code. NHAR took no position on the adoption of the code.

However, NHAR had objected to an amendment added by the Fire Code Board which would allow a homeowner to “opt-out” of certain elements related to the fire protection of floors. The ‘opt-out’ provision was the result of a compromise between the Fire Marshall and homebuilders.

That provision would have required the property owner to file a “Floors Omission Disclosure Document” with both the Registry of Deeds as well as local municipality property records, potentially impacting insurance and lending while increasing liability to homeowners and Realtors.

NHAR worked with the State Fire Marshall and building code officials to rescind that ‘opt-out’ amendment. Instead, while the 2015 Fire Code, if it is signed into law by the Governor, it will become effective later this summer, the one portion of the code dealing with the fire protection of floors will not go into effect for another 18 months.

The same agreement would also apply to House Bill 562, which updates the state building code. Both bills should be on the Governor’s desk in May.

Small condominiums get some big consideration

House Bill 348 creates a new definition of a “small condominium” under the state’s condominium statute (RSA 356-B). A small condominium is defined as a condominium created without possibility of conversion or expansion and limited to 25 or fewer residential units.

The intent is to allow smaller condo associations to have separate meeting and quorum requirements then larger associations. Nothing in the bill prohibits an association from having stricter meeting requirements in its operating documents.

The bill also requires all condo associations to have a master insurance policy to cover common areas and spells out who is responsible if damage occurs and no insurance is in place.

The legislation has passed out of the House of Representatives and is awaiting action in the Senate.

To view the most recent legislative chart, click here or open the attached document. If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2019 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Vice President of Government Affairs Bob Quinn at bob@nhar.com or 603-225-5549.

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