Legislative Update April 21, 2022

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Legislative Update: April 21, 2022
House Committee Punts Decision on Short-Term Rentals to Courts

Earlier this week, the House Municipal and County Government Committee voted to “interim study” Senate Bill 249. The bill sought to prevent municipalities from banning short-term rentals while granting towns new authority to require registrations and inspect properties – while providing municipalities with options to deny registrations to problem properties.

The Committee members stated that while private property rights might be worth protecting, towns should have the option to prohibit a private property owner’s ability to rent. Voting to “interim study” in the second year of a legislative session is a polite way of killing the bill.

By taking no action on SB 249, the House is sending a clear signal that the legislature’s preference is to defer to the NH judicial system in deciding if renting private property is a protected right. A Superior Court recently overturned Conway’s prohibition on the use of residential property as a short-term or vacation rental. That case, a significant win for private property advocates, is now going to the NH Supreme Court.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court will likely decide, either in the Conway case or another similar case, if STR’s are an allowed use in each town. NHAR argued that leaving the decision to the court system, in a patchwork of court cases spread out over years, was poor public policy that would cost property owners and towns hundreds of thousands of dollars. A reasonable compromise would have saved towns and property owners time and money. The House Committee disagreed.

License recognition bill heads to the Governor’s desk 

House Bill 1354, which has now passed both the House and Senate, simplifies the process for an out-of-state licensee to earn a NH real estate license. The bill states that if an out-of-state applicant holds an active real estate license in good standing, issued by passing both the national and state examinations in accordance with the laws of that state, the applicant may apply for an equivalent license by passing the New Hampshire portion of the licensing examination – provided that other requirements of the Real Estate Commission have been met.

The bill only applies to salesperson and broker applicants when they are applying for a New Hampshire license “with the same equivalent status as currently licensed” in the other state.

The bill should be on the Governor’s desk in the next month.

Eviction notice bill gets a thumbs down from committee – barely

Senate Bill 217 requires a landlord to provide a 60-day notice to any tenant before an eviction if the reason for that eviction is to perform repairs which cannot be safely done while the tenant resides in the dwelling, or if the landlord is selling the property. The bill contains several caveats to those requirements, which could be challenging for a landlord to interpret when 60 days or 30 days are required. The bill has already passed out of the Senate. NHAR is opposed.

The House Judiciary voted, 11-10, to recommend to the full House that the bill should be killed. The Chair of the Committee, a former Judge, argued against the bill, explaining that existing statute requires 30-day notice to the tenant followed by another 30 days for a judicial hearing. And judges have the discretion to stay the eviction for yet another 90 days. So under current law, a tenant could stay in the unit for 150 days. SB 217 would extend that to a possible 180 days, which the majority of the Committee felt was unnecessary.

The full House should vote on the bill in May.

For more information, contact New Hampshire Realtors CEO Bob Quinn: bob@nhar.com

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