Legislative Update Jan. 19, 2022

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Legislative Update: Jan. 19, 2022 

Addressing short-term rentals and the inventory crisis

The 2022 legislative session is underway in Concord. Here is a summary of a few of the bills NHAR is following:

Regulate, but don’t ban, short-term rentals

Senate Bill 249, NHAR’s proactive legislation, will grant municipalities additional authority to regulate the use of residential single-family and two-family structures being used as a short-term rental (STR), while specifically preventing a town from outright banning short-term rentals through zoning regulations. The legislation is an attempt to find a reasonable balance between private property rights and the safety concerns of towns.

The legislation seeks to grant a town authority to both inspect the property and require that the STR be registered with the town. The bill also seeks to protect a municipality’s existing authority to regulate parking, noise, health or sanitation.

The Senate hearing for bill is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Legislation tackles housing inventory crunch

Senate Bill 400 seeks to provide incentives and mandates on communities in an attempt to move them to create new opportunities for affordable housing development. The legislation enjoys broad bipartisan legislative support, including that of the Governor.

Communities allowing for housing could receive preferential access to state resources, including state infrastructure funds. NHAR supports SB 400.

Among other items, SB 400 states that if a municipality allows for increased density, reduced lot size, expedited approval, or other dimensional or procedural incentives for age-restricted housing, the towns must offer the same incentives for the development of workforce housing.

The bill also requires a court, at its discretion, to require the person appealing a decision of a land use board to file a bond to indemnify and hold harmless the person or persons in whose favor the decision was rendered from damages and costs which they may sustain in case the decision being appealed is affirmed.

The bill also alters Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts to incentivize affordable housing while altering required time frames for land use boards and courts when reviewing permitting applications.

A similar bill failed narrowly in the House of Representatives last year. The Senate will take up the bill later this week.

Housing Appeals Board under attack … again

The newly established NH Housing Appeal Board was created as an alternative forum to the New Hampshire Superior Court in zoning and planning cases that are timely, fair, inexpensive, and accessible to affected property owners, abutters and municipalities. The Board has a responsibility parallel to the Superior Court to hear appeals of all planning and zoning decisions as specified in NH RSA 679.

House Bill 1216 would repeal the board in its entirety. NHAR testified against the bill and in favor of the Housing Appeals Board (HAB). The Housing Appeals Board ensures that appeals are less expensive, quicker and heard by experts in land use law.

Opponents of the HAB claim that it undermines local control. However, NHAR feels the HAB protects local control by ensuring elected officials adhere to their town ordinances as voted on by their residents as well as state statute.

The House Judiciary Committee will likely vote on the bill later this month.

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

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