April 17, 2018
Security deposit stays at one month
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:
Security deposit bill goes down in the House
House Bill 1485, which would have raised the allowable security deposit from one month’s rent to two, has been defeated on the House floor. NHAR and landlord groups testified that one-month’s security deposit is not enough to cover damages in certain circumstances and therefore would have assisted smaller landlords to stay in business, keep rents affordable, while allowing higher-risk tenants access to housing.
Opponents of the bill argued the bill would create a barrier to housing for those most in need. And municipalities, which often pay the security deposits for the indigent, claimed the bill would have significantly impacted their budgets.
Most states allow at least two months of security deposits, including Vermont, Maine and Connecticut. The concerns raised by opponents of HB 1485 have not materialized in those states.
Expanding financing options
Over the past several years, NHAR has fought to protect seller financing from state regulatory efforts to eliminate its use or require a mortgage broker’s license to engage in such transactions. NHAR’s efforts have centered around protecting the owner of the property to provide such private financing.
Senate Bill 314 is an effort to expand the exemption to allow non-owners of property to make a private mortgage loan – up to three in a 12-month period. NHAR testified in favor of the bill. SB 314 has already passed the Senate and is currently being considered by the House Commerce Committee.
During the hearing, the NH Banking Department testified that SB 314 is unnecessary since they now deem certain non-owner transactions as legal after the relevant statute was rewritten in 2016 – an interpretation which was welcome news to NHAR. REALTORS still believe SB 314 is needed since it adds clear, concise language allowing for a limited number of non-owner financing transactions.
Arsenic standards to change
House Bill 1592 requires the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services (DES) to review the standards for arsenic in public water to determine whether it should be lowered. While DES has no authority over private well water, DES guidance tends to become the de facto standard for laboratories and for DES private well health advisories.
The current DES guideline is 10 micrograms/L, and some legislators are pushing DES to impose a lower 5 micrograms/L standard. This is lower than the existing US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforceable standard for public drinking water and would make New Hampshire one of only two states with a standard below that of the EPA. Some towns have raised concerns about the cost of complying – and the expense is a concern for private well owners as well.
NHAR has no issue with water standards which meet commonly agreed scientifically-based standards, which EPA does. HB 1592 would mark the first time the New Hampshire legislature would seek to mandate drinking water standards below EPA guidance.
For the most recent legislative chart, click here.
If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2018 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact Bob Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-225-5549.