Legislative Update January 21, 2021

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Legislative Update January 21, 2021

Expect a session like no other

By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer

The 2021 legislative session is underway at the State House in Concord, although hearings and sessions will look unlike anything we have seen before.

The state Senate will hold all activities remotely for the foreseeable future, and the 400-member House of Representatives announced that nearly 20 filters that recirculate indoor air to improve air quality and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 have been installed in various committee rooms. While legislators can choose whether to take part in person or via Zoom, the public will not be allowed in the Legislative Office Building and will participate remotely.

NHAR’s Public Policy Committee has now reviewed over 600 bills of more than 900 which have been released. Here are a few highlights:

House Bill 426 expands the site assessment on shoreland septic systems to include all parcels of land within 250 feet of the reference line, whereas the existing statute (RSA 485-A:39) requires site assessments for parcels only within 200 feet of the reference line. In addition, the bill requires a septic evaluation, not just an assessment, for all systems older than 20 years. That evaluation report must be provided to both the town’s local health officer, as well as to the NH Department of Environmental Services. The bill also expands a municipality’s ability to mandate even more stringent regulations for septic systems than in state statute. NHAR is opposed to the bill, as it does little to protect water quality while placing potentially significant new regulatory burdens on property owners.

NHAR worked with members of the legislature and other interested parties this past summer on a Shoreland Septic System Commission in an attempt to ensure that our lakes and rivers are kept healthy, while not placing unnecessary requirements on property owners.

Meanwhile, several bills have been introduced which could impact landlord/tenant relationships.

  • House Bill 160 would require landlords to provide residential tenants with a notice of certain rent increases up to 90 days prior to the increase. NHAR is opposed.
  • House Bill 227 would make the termination of lease grounds for eviction. Many assume that when a lease expires a property owner may evict a tenant. However, in most residential properties the landlord must provide “good cause” for the eviction. HB 227 adds the expiration of the term of the lease or tenancy as grounds for that eviction. NHAR supports this legislation.
  • Finally, House Bill 550 would require that during the current state of emergency, courts would be required to grant 30-day continuances to tenants facing eviction, if the tenants can demonstrate they have applied for governmental assistance.

NHAR will provide weekly updates of other bills of interest to the real estate industry.

If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation regarding the 2021 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Acting Chief Executive Officer Bob Quinn at bob@nhar.com or 603-225-5549.

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