Legislative Update February 6, 2018

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Feb. 6, 2018

Legislative Update: Short-term rentals;
condo bills; the return of ZBA standards

By BOB QUINN
Government Affairs Director, NH REALTORS

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:

Some legislators look to give short-term rentals the short shrift

The ability of a New Hampshire property owner to utilize his or her home as a rental is once again on the chopping block at the legislature. And once again, NHAR will be there to oppose those efforts.

The complete NHAR legislative chart can be found here.

Most concerning is House Bill 1635, which allows a municipality to issue a license for the operation of a short term-rental and establishing a fee for such license. Under the bill, towns would be given unlimited ability to set up any standards or requirements in order for a property owner to obtain the license. A town could shut-down all short-term rentals by making the license requirements too restrictive.

Another bill, House Bill 1634 would allow municipalities to regulate “disorderly houses.” The bill has no definition of what a disorderly house is so, once again, towns could create a definition that targets short-term rentals or landlords. NHAR will be actively involved in debates on these bills.

Condo bills galore this session

No fewer than 10 bills were introduced this session dealing with condominium governance. One of those is Senate Bill 414, which would create a state condominium resolution board to hear complaints about failing to follow association declaration and bylaws or other matters related to violations of condominium instruments or state law. Any complainant would pay a fee of $250. Condo associations are concerned the bill will result in increased legal fees, while condo owners testified that a state grievance board is their only reasonable means to challenge decisions or procedures of an association.

House Bill 1781 establishes meeting and insurance requirements for small condominiums with 10 or fewer residential units distinct from those already in New Hampshire condominium statute. NHAR supports the concept. Meanwhile, House Bill 1571 would change what constitutes an “emergency meeting” of an association, therefore requiring immediate action and altering the notification requirements to unit owners. Details are being worked out for both bills.

What is dead may never die – it just comes back the next session

Last session, the only bill the Governor vetoed dealt with mandating that a Zoning Board of Adjustment must vote on each of the five standards for approving a variance under RSA 674:33 as separate votes – as opposed to simply approving the variance with just one vote. This would have resulted in unnecessary and potentially expensive delays for applicants, and NHAR applauded the Governor’s veto. Perhaps not surprisingly, the same idea is back again this year with House Bill 1215. And NHAR will once again be in opposition.

Meanwhile, House Bill 1533 would create a multi-year process for towns to extinguish variances or special exceptions which have not been acted upon and were authorized prior to August 2013 – all variances and special exceptions after that date are already statutorily mandated to be valid for at least two years. NHAR is concerned that property owners will have variances revoked retroactively without their knowledge. The House is currently reviewing the language of the bill.

If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2018 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact Bob Quinn at bob@nhar.com or 603-554-7855.

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