Legislative Update Jan. 31, 2023

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New bills target landlords

Legislative Update: January 31

House Bill 567 would require landlords to provide a tenant with six months written notice of any rent increase that exceeds 15 percent of the current rent, and the tenant would be given the chance to terminate their existing lease with only  10 days written notice to the landlord. 

Advocates argued that landlords were unnecessarily increasing rents and therefore making units unaffordable. NHAR testified in opposition, arguing that many landlords experienced significant fuel increases on very short notice this past fall and rising commercial interest rates are cutting into profits. Energy costs, interest rates and many other expenses are almost impossible to forecast six months out.

Meanwhile, House Bill 401 would impose a requirement of 60-days notice prior to eviction if the owner’s intention is to repair, renovate, or rehabilitate a dwelling unit; or if the owner intends to remove a dwelling unit from the residential rental market. Oddly, the bill requires that the unit cannot be used for residential rental use for a year – which would clearly exacerbate the apartment shortage in the state.  

NHAR testified that apartment vacancy rates in most communities are currently hovering at historically low levels of around 1 percent or less. Finding an apartment is an enormous challenge for residents, which causes significant strains on families, workers and the overall economy. The answer to this supply problem is to build more apartments, not to place even more regulatory burdens on landlords – many of whom are already running on very small profit margins.

Expect the House of Representatives to take action on these bills later in February.

Seasonal docks would need to be clear from endangered species

House Bill 472 would prohibit any seasonal dock from being placed in an area where it might impact a threatened or endangered species. NHAR testified that while well-intentioned, the legislation does not explain how a property owner would be able to verify if a seasonal dock is in fact threatening a species.  

Most requirements for a DES Permit-by-Notification  for placement of a seasonal dock deal with dimensional and setback requirements. Those items are relatively easy to obtain by a property owner, while this new proposed requirement might require a costly review.

Neither the Department of Environmental Services nor NH Fish & Game testified in favor of the legislation. The House Development and Natural Resources Committee is expected to take action on the bill in February.

Corporations would be banned from purchasing residential property

House Bill 340 would prohibit any “non-natural” person from acquiring residential real estate. That roughly translates to a total ban on corporations and LLC’s from purchasing either single-family or multi-family property. 

Apart from the fact that the bill is undoubtedly unconstitutional and has almost no support in the legislature, it is worth mentioning because it is founded on the repeated claim that corporations are buying up homes and apartments in New Hampshire.

When it comes to apartments, clearly corporations, partnerships and LLC’s are entities buying these properties. The vast majority of apartment units in New Hampshire are owned by a corporation or LLC. An individual is unlikely to be able to acquire financing, nor want to buy as a non-natural person for tax and liability reasons, a multi-million dollar multi-family property. 

However, are corporations buying up single-family homes in New Hampshire? Not according to a recent study conducted by the National Association of REALTORS. In fact, the report showed that only Alaska, at 2 percent of all purchases, had fewer “institutional buyers” than New Hampshire (4 percent). Texas had the highest percentage of single-family homes acquired by institutional buyers at 28 percent. Most of New Hampshire’s institutional buyers can be attributed to individuals or small investors using an LLC to buy the home.

House Bill 340 will be voted on by the House Judiciary Committee later this week.

Quote of the Week

As a result of the significant housing crisis … housing is probably the number one challenge we have, from an economic standpoint.” 

Taylor Caswell, Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, testifying to the Senate Finance Committee.

NHAR’s legislative chart can be found here.

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

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