Legislative Update June 23, 2020
Legislature completes abbreviated session
By BOB QUINN
Vice President of Government Affairs
Both the House and Senate met in session over the past two weeks to vote on a limited number of legislative initiatives.
Most of the bills NHAR had been tracking this session were “tabled,” meaning that no action will taken on them this year. While the House’s June 10 session broke down after a debate over altering House rules, the Senate did meet and passed several omnibus bills. Here is a quick rundown on real estate-related provisions which passed the Senate:
Eviction process during State of Emergency
House Bill 1247 states that no landlord can file a possessory action based on nonpayment of rent or other lawful charges set forth in the lease or rental agreement, which became due and payable, in whole or in part, during the state of emergency, unless the landlord has made a written offer to permit the tenant to pay the entire arrearage in partial payments over a six-month period beginning with the first rental period following the date of the offer.
The legislation only deals with nonpayment of rent and does not cover other valid legal basis for evictions. This legislation will be taken up by the House on June 30. It is not clear if the Governor will sign it into law. While the Governor has indicated that his current Emergency Order No. 4, which prohibits evictions, will be lifted on July 1, landlords should keep in mind that both FHA and FHFA announced that they are extending foreclosure and eviction moratoriums until August 31 on all federally-backed loans.
Voluntary registration of docks
Language in House Bill 1245 allows an owner to voluntarily register with NH DES an existing docking structure for a fee of $200. The registration will allow for the repair or replacement of legally existing docking facilities to be exempt from the permitting requirements for five years, at which time the owner can submit a new registration request.
The application will have to provide photographs of the existing dock along with other information certifying it was constructed and maintained in compliance with statute and has been maintained in its current size, location, and configuration since January 1, 2000.
The intent of the voluntary program is to lessen disputes between neighbors which arise from repairs and replacement of certain docks. The legislation will be taken up by the House on June 30.
Recognition of licenses from out of state
House Bill 1491 requires all professional licensing boards or commissions, including the Real Estate Commission, to create a process for granting a New Hampshire license to a licensee from another state if it determines that the requirements for licensure in that state are equivalent to, or greater than, those established in New Hampshire.
Clearly, one area where out-of-state licenses are not “equivalent” is that they do not required an applicant to learn New Hampshire laws and regulations, so NHAR believes that the Real Estate Commission should require all out-of-state license applicants to at least take the New Hampshire portion of the licensing exam. The legislation will be taken up in the House on June 30.
NHAR successfully raises objections to new town liens
When the Senate released its various omnibus legislation, NHAR was surprised to see buried on page 50 of a 60-page amendment to House Bill 1234 a provision granting towns unilateral authority to place a lien on any real property after issuing a cease and desist.
The lien, which would not need a judicial oversight, is for the “estimated total cost” to the town of taking corrective action to remediate the violation. The lien would not be removed until a court took final action.
NHAR argued that this provision has questionable constitutionality in that it eliminates due process by making a town the judge and jury in any dispute but it is clearly intended to bully a property owner to acquiescing to the towns order. The Senate Judiciary Committee removed the language from the final bill.
If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2020 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Vice President of Government Affairs Bob Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-225-5549.