Legislative Update August 7, 2019

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Legislative Update
Aug. 7, 2019

NHAR Private Road Bill Takes Effect

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:

Governor signs NHAR private road maintenance agreement legislation

After three-and-a-half years of debate, last Friday the Governor signed legislation clearing the path for both the Veterans Administration and Fannie Mae to take a mortgage on a private road in New Hampshire even if there is no written agreement between the property owners.

In May, over 600 Realtors responded to NHAR’s Call for Action alert on Senate Bill 39, which then passed out the House, after having fallen short twice before.

The final version of SB 39 makes it clear that the intent is to codify existing common law practice in the enforcement of easements. The bill states that in the absence of an agreement governing maintenance of a private road, when more than one residential owner enjoys a common benefit from a private road, each residential owner shall contribute equitably to the reasonable cost of maintaining the private road. The legislation applies only to residential properties while making it clear that none of the new language applies to Class V and Class VI roads.

Both the VA and Fannie Mae require written agreements among all property owners unless there is a state law governing the maintenance of private roads. SB 39 is designed to provide that minimum requirement. The new law went into effect on Aug. 2.

New law permitting commission payments to LLCs goes into effect

NHAR-backed House Bill 268, which allows a principal broker to pay a commission to an unlicensed partnership, association, limited liability company, limited liability partnership or a corporation, goes into effect this week.

The bill makes it clear that all members of any business entity, such as an LLC, receiving such a commission must hold a valid and active real estate license.

Governor vetoes prime wetland legislation

House Bill 326 would have altered the definition of what makes up a prime wetland. Under current statute a prime wetland, each of which are so-designated by municipalities, must be contiguous, at least two acres in size, and have a width of at least 50 feet at its narrowest point, plus meet four of the primary wetlands functions. NHDES will apply all state laws and rules that are applicable to any projects that are within a 100-foot prime wetland buffer.

HB 326 would have expanded the definition to allow a town to apply the prime wetland designation to those narrow sections which are less than 50 feet in width, as long as they contain four of the primary wetland functions.

In his veto message, the Governor indicated the expansion of the definition was “unnecessary” and did not properly account for private property owners impacted by the change.
It takes a vote of two-thirds of the legislature to overturn a veto.

NH DES to begin sampling private well water

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) announced this week that it will be sampling 500 randomly selected private wells, evenly distributed, statewide for over 250 chemicals and parameters including volatile organic compounds, metals, radionuclides, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and pesticides. The sampling is being paid for through a grant from the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund.

This information will be used to develop and implement strategies to mitigate and prevent exposures to unsafe levels of contaminants in drinking water obtained from private wells.

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 atbob@nhar.com or 603-225-5549.

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