Security deposits; licensing; protecting commercial property owners
By BOB QUINN
Government Affairs Director for NH REALTORS
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:
Security deposit legislation draws a crowd
House Bill 1485 which would raise the allowable security deposit from one month’s rent to two, drew a packed crowd to the hearing last week at the House Judiciary committee. NHAR and landlord groups are concerned that one-month’s security deposit is not enough to cover damages in certain circumstances and that tenants utilize as their security deposit as their last month’s rent.
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Opponents of the bill argued the bill would create a barrier to housing for those most in need. However, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont allow for at least two months of security deposits and their vacancy rates are higher than NH.
The House Judiciary Committee is discussing the merits of the legislation and should act in February. NHAR supports passage of HB 1485.
Licensing bills deal with fee structures, continuing education and reciprocity
A variety of bills being debated at the legislature could impact the licensing of real estate professionals. Senate Bill 531, which has already passed out of a Senate Committee, allows the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) to collect and keep fees as opposed to sending those dollars to the state’s general revenue fund. The intent is to better track financing and set a more appropriate fee structure for licensed professions. Financial reports show that the Real Estate Commission has recently been collecting significantly more fees and fines then they require to meet budget obligations.
Additionally, Senate Bill 461 would alter continuing education requirements for licensed real estate professionals and expand core course requirements. Senate Bill 459 is intended to open reciprocity for real estate licensing to all states while also maintaining existing qualifications for licensure under RSA 331-A:10. Similarly, House Bill 1104 alters all professional licensing requirements for those who already hold licenses in other states. None of these bills have had a hearing.
Assessors want your financial information
Senate Bill 509 would allow assessors to mandate that commercial property owners provide income and expense information in order to evaluate the market value of their property. If a property owner refuses, then that owner would be guilty of a violation. NHAR opposes this legislation.
Potentially, this legislation could lead one property owner to pay more in taxes for operating a business more efficiently then his or her competitor. And any attempt by a municipality to keep financial information confidential is problematic. Additionally, assessors already have means to ascertain sales and rental information. NHAR believes this is unnecessary legislation which would create far more problems then it purports to solve.