Legislative Update Jan. 9, 2024

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NHAR pushes for OPLC efficiency changes

Senate Bill 480 was put forth by NHAR in order to improve customer service at the Office of Professional Licensing (OPLC) as well as to clarify certain issues related to real estate licensing.

The bill would require OPLC to provide, to the Real Estate Commission and other similarly sized boards and commissions, a dedicated customer service administrator who is trained and possesses specific statutory and regulatory knowledge related to that occupation. 

The bill would also require OPLC to provide a unique public-facing phone number and email address for real estate licensees for inquiries. OPLC testified that wait times are currently four minutes but acknowledge licensees sometimes waiting 15 to 20 minutes for someone to pick up the phone.

Section II of the bill deals with continuing education requirements. OPLC had previously enforced RSA 331-A:25, IX, which requires a salesperson renewing for the first time to complete elective continuing education courses in specified topics. OPLC ceased enforcing that requirement because they felt the statutory language was not clear enough. Section II of the bill would add a definition of “post-licensing” which satisfies OPLC’s concerns about ambiguity in existing statute.

Section III of the bill reinserts statutory language related to inactive licenses which had been inadvertently deleted in the state budget (HB 2) last year. Finally, Section IV deals with approvals of continuing education courses.

The bill was heard last week in the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee. NHAR and OPLC are working on a possible amendment which might satisfy all parties. 

House passes bill on rental application fees

House Bill 283, as amended, requires landlords who collect a rental application fee to refund all but the landlord’s actual out-of-pocket costs, including for credit reports, criminal background checks, and reasonable administrative costs, to applicants whose applications have been denied.

Any landlord who violates this requirement would be required to refund all monies collected from the applicant (without deduction for the landlord’s costs) for application fees and also would be responsible for court costs if the applicant must go to court to get their money back. 

In addition, prior to collecting any fee as part of the rental application or renewal process, the landlord must clearly disclose, in writing to prospective tenants, the amount of the fee and the requirement for a satisfactory criminal background and credit check.

The bill passed easily out of the House of Representatives and now heads to the Senate. 

NHAR supports bill restricting certain fertilizers

House Bill 1293 is intended to reduce the levels of phosphorus, which is the main cause of cyanobacteria blooms, in our water bodies. The bill states that the use of turf fertilizers containing phosphorus would be prohibited during heavy rain or when heavy rain is predicted, on saturated or frozen ground, or from October 15 through April 1, including applications by professionals.  Runoff of fertilizers into water bodies was identified as a major factor in phosphorus loading of lakes and ponds.

In all other situations, the bill authorizes the use of phosphorus fertilizers for a variety of reasons, including establishing a newly seeded and/or sodded lawn during the first growing season, gardening, turf repair and agricultural purposes. It also adds new retail notice of the hazards of using phosphorus fertilizers.

NHAR testified in favor of the bill as a reasonable and cost-effective way to reduce cyanobacteria blooms. 

Quote of the Week

As household budgets are stretched ever tighter due to a range of economic pressures, the lack of available and affordable housing for people across the income spectrum increases the risk of homelessness for many Granite Staters.” 

Annual State of Homelessness Report; NH Coalition to End Homelessness. You can read the full report here.

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

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