Legislative Update February 4, 2021

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Legislative Update February 4, 2021

Legislature explores broadband expansion

Chief Executive Officer

The pandemic has shown gaps in adequate broadband coverage, primarily in rural areas of New Hampshire. Increasingly, residents are demanding better access to broadband at sufficient speeds to meet their needs for remote learning, telemedicine and working from home.

Senate Bill 85 proposes to create a state matching grant to utilize state and federal funds, which will be matched by municipalities and private funds for projects expanding broadband access. The bill allows towns a grant of up to 50 percent of the total eligible costs of a project.

Exactly how much funding is still unknown, as it is expected the appropriation will be part of the upcoming state budget. Earlier this week, NHAR testified in favor of SB 85.

A cavalcade of condo bills in Commerce Committee

House Bill 336 would establish a condominium dispute resolution board to resolve matters involving condominium associations and unit owners. This is at least the third time the legislature has debated creating such a board. Last year, the bill passed out of the House but the Senate did not take up the bill due to the pandemic.

The Board would have authority to review the failure of a condominium association to follow its declaration and bylaws; or the failure to follow proper voting procedures and other actions not in compliance with condominium instruments or the State Condominium Act.

Meanwhile, House Bill 358 would prevent a condominium board to mandate a vote of greater than a simple majority to consent to the installation and operation of a solar system in or on a unit, a common area, convertible space, or roof. The law would apply to condominium bylaws adopted or revised after the effective date of this section. Since virtually all bylaws are eventually revised, the requirement would impact all condo associations.

Finally, House Bill 462 would allow an association to foreclose on a unit in certain circumstances. Associations would have a priority on past-due association fees and would also be able to recoup legal fees. The Banking Association is opposed, as it could increase the cost of mortgages on condos.

All these bill will be voted on in committee later this month.

Businesses protected from lawsuits related to COVID-19

Next week, the Senate will take up  Senate Bill 63, which would protect businesses from liability for personal injury resulting from an actual or alleged exposure to coronavirus in the course of that businesses activity, provided the business was following applicable government standards and guidance related to coronavirus exposure.

The legislation does not allow a business to claim liability protection if the injury were the result of gross negligence, willful misconduct or intentional infliction of harm.

NHAR supports this legislation.

If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation regarding the 2021 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Acting Chief Executive Officer Bob Quinn at bob@nhar.com or 603-225-5549.

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