Legislative Update Jan. 30, 2024

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NHAR seeks to combat land scams

Land fraud is becoming a common occurrence across New Hampshire. Scammers, with no ownership rights over a piece of property, will contact a brokerage indicating their desire to sell the property, usually undeveloped land, and typically indicate they are located out of state and need to sell quickly. They may have information about the property from publicly available sources or even from a hacked email account. 

Many brokers and agents might seek to ask the individual to send them a driver’s license as a part of a series of actions they will take to confirm the legitimacy of the person’s claim of ownership. However, according to NH statute it is illegal to, “Knowingly scan, record, retain, or store, in any electronic form or format, personal information … obtained from any license, unless authorized by the (safety) department.” (RSA 263:12, X.)

The Department of Safety has confirmed that receiving a driver’s license through email is interpreted as violating the statute and is a misdemeanor. While a few professions are exempt, real estate licensees are not.

NHAR worked with allies in the Senate on crafting SB 502, which would allow a real estate broker to receive a driver’s license via electronic form, as long as the brokerage does not retain the license longer than the date of closing or whenever requested by the license holder. While not a cure-all solution, it will be a tool in the Realtors’ toolbox to be used in combating fraud.

The hearing was held last week, and NHAR was the only entity to testify. The Senate Judiciary Committee should take action on the bill early next month. 

Short-term rental bills fall short

House Bill 1498 and House Bill 1635 both target property owners renting on a short-term basis. One creates a statewide registry and the other attempts to create a more uniform definition of short-term rentals in various statutes. Both bills had public hearings last week in front of the House Commerce Committee. NHAR spoke against both bills.

The sponsor of the bills, as well as the Chair of the Commerce Committee, ultimately acknowledged that the bills were poorly drafted and would likely not accomplish the intent of the sponsor. There was some discussion about overhauling the language to meet the sponsor’s goal of requiring short-term rentals to register.

NHAR will monitor the bills closely to ensure that the rights of property owners are protected.

How much flood notification is enough?

House Bill 1310 would require every buyer to be notified if the subject property is in a flood zone, if the property has ever flooded, and whether the current owner has flood insurance. The information would be mandated in RSA 477-4:a, (Section 12 of NHAR’s Purchase & Sale). The bill also requires landlords to provide flood insurance information to all potential tenants in restricted properties prior to signing a lease.

NHAR testified in opposition for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, information on flood risk already exists in both NHAR’s P&S and property disclosure. The language in HB 1310 would add an entire page of detailed and perhaps confusing information on flood risk and insurance to the Purchase and Sale document. 

The bill would also mandate a series of notifications to a potential tenant prior to signing a lease, and if a landlord fails to do so, the statute would grant the tenant the ability to terminate the lease whenever they choose. 

The House Commerce Committee will take action on the bill next month. 

Quote of the Week

Unfortunately, the misinformation and stereotypes about manufactured housing have also influenced our local zoning ordinances and the actions of many of our land use boards. However, a study recently commissioned by the New Hampshire Association of Realtors (NHAR) is starting to dismantle misconceptions that some municipalities have used to deny new housing developments for households with lower incomes. For years, they’ve argued that this type of housing leads to more student enrollment and higher property taxes … that it simply isn’t true.

Sarah Marchant, Chief of Staff, NH Community Loan Fund, “Achieving the homeownership dream through manufactured housing,” Union Leader January 28. (To find the NHAR video, “Busting the Correlation Myth,” click here.

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

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