Legislative Update Jan 29, 2019: Short-term rentals, again

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Short-term rentals (again);
condo and wetland bills

By BOB QUINN
Government Affairs Director

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:

A glut of vacation/short-term rental bills to be debated

Another year, and yet another batch of bills largely designed to limit the use of residential properties for vacation or short-term rentals have been introduced at the State House.

Senate Bill 69 would allow towns to require licensing of vacation rentals and tack on an unspecified fee. Even more problematically, it would allow fire and health officials to enter private property without a warrant or owner permission. It’s tough to imagine that provision would pass constitutional muster, and NHAR will strongly oppose this bill.

House Bill 653 will require the business collecting the rent on a short-term rental to be responsible for remittance of Meals and Rooms taxes to the Dept. of Revenue Administration; House Bill 655 allows towns to regulate ‘disorderly houses’; and House Bill 641 would allow municipalities to collect an occupancy fee from operators of local rooms, which NHAR opposes.

A plethora of condo bills hit the legislature

In 2019, the legislature will once again debate legislation on how condominium associations operate. Here are the bills currently being debated in the House of Representatives:

House Bill 160 would alter quorum requirements when adopting a budget; House Bill 436  would establish an alternative judicial method for foreclosure of a lien while clarifying the liability for common expenses on abandoned units; House Bill 348 would establish meetings and insurance requirements for small condominiums with 25 or fewer residential units; House Bill 460 would place responsibility of the consumer protection on condominium disputes in the Attorney General’s office; and House Bill 308 would establish a statewide Condominium Dispute Resolution Board to deal with failure to follow declaration and bylaws, proper voting procedures or any other actions not in compliance with condominium instruments or laws.

… And a couple of wetland bills

House Bill 543 seeks to create a new “High Value Wetland,” which would be administered and enforced by the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). Similar versions of this legislation have been debated at the State House over the past several years.

NHAR is concerned that adapting the language in HB 543 would remove significant amounts of developable land by creating a buffer of up to 100 feet on many, if not most, wetlands, and therefore make all housing and commercial development even more expensive. In the past, NHDES has not supported similar legislation due to cost and its inability to enforce across the state. NHAR opposes the bill.

Meanwhile, House Bill 542 would allocate grant dollars to towns looking to “update or adopt” wetland ordinances. Neither bill has had a hearing.

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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