Legislative Update Jan. 23, 2018

posted in: Advocacy | 0

Private roads; seasonal docks; water standards

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:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the private road without a maintenance agreement

Some New Hampshire property owners who live on private roads often find it harder to gain access to affordable financing due Fannie Mae’s requirement that an adequate, enforceable agreement must exist for the maintenance of the street. So if there is no written agreement on a private road, Fannie is less likely to take the mortgage, forcing property owners to seek other, more expensive options.

However, if there is no such agreement between the property owners, Fannie does allow purchase of the mortgage if there are statutory provisions that define the responsibilities of property owners for the maintenance and repair of a private street.

NHAR worked with legislators to introduce Senate Bill 401, an attempt to meet Fannie Mae’s requirement and place minimum requirements on the maintenance of a private road. The language will simply codify what the NH Supreme Court has already ruled in several cases: that “a private right of access is an easement” and that those with access have responsibility for maintenance.

Similar legislation has failed twice before in the House of Representatives.

To extend temporary seasonal docks or not to extend; that is the question

Both House and Senate Committees spent much of 2017 discussing extending the length of temporary seasonal docks as well as permitting requirements for temporary seasonal boat lifts. Senate Bill 119 has passed both the House and Senate but in different forms (House version / Senate version).

There seems to be consensus on allowing extending such docks to 50 feet, as opposed to the current 40 feet. However, the House and Senate negotiators will need to meet in a committee of conference to iron out other differences in the bill before it can go to the Governor for his signature.

And new in 2018 is House Bill 1371, which seeks to eliminate certain lot size and setback permitting requirements for seasonal docks. NHAR supports passage of the bill.

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

Water contamination and requirements for new state water standards are a hot topic at the State House. Some legislators are asking the NH Department of Environmental Services to set minimum groundwater quality standards far below current EPA requirements on contaminants such as arsenic, MTBE and perflourinated chemicals (PFCs).

Municipalities are concerned with remediation costs, especially when the science for some the contaminants is not settled. While DES has no enforceable authority over private well water, their groundwater standards do tend to become “advisory level” guidance for private wells.

Most concerning to NHAR is House Bill 1610, which would require sellers to provide notice to potential buyers of any environmental hazards which might impact the property. The bill is virtually impossible to comply with, as it requires sellers to have perfect knowledge of all water hazards within a mile of the property, including hazardous waste generators and underground storage tanks. NHAR is strongly opposed.

For more information on any of these or other issues pertaining to New Hampshire REALTORS government affairs, contact Bob Quinn at 603-225-5549 or bob@nhar.com.

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