Legislative Update March 3, 2020

posted in: Advocacy | 0


Housing Appeals Board will stand

Vice President of Government Affairs

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:

For the most recent NHAR legislative chart, click here.

Repeal of new statewide Housing Appeals Board is denied

Three bills were introduced this session to eliminate the new statewide Housing Appeals Board, which was signed into law as a part of last year’s budget. New Hampshire REALTORS sent more than 4,000 emails in the summer of 2019 to legislators indicating their support for the Housing Appeals Board, which is designed to provide a quicker and less expensive alternative for property owners to appeal local land use decision. NHAR testified against these repeal bills (SB 735SB 721 and SB 487).

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to kill these bills and allow the Board to go forward. The Senators rejected claims by the NH Municipal Association that the Board would undermine local control. Property owners already have the right to appeal to the Superior Court, and this new Board has no more authority then the Superior Court already has.

The Housing Appeals Board is scheduled to begin receiving funding this summer and could be up and running in the fall.

Homeowners Association statute gets shelved

Currently, there are no statutes in New Hampshire governing homeowners’ associations. Senate Bill 710 sought to address that issue by establishing regulations ranging from governing documents to dispute procedures. The bill itself was over 20 pages long and had virtually no input from stakeholders.

The Senate Commerce Committee decided it was best for advocates for an HOA statute to seek more input from interested parties before asking the legislature to enact a potentially complicated and far reaching statute. The Committee voted 5-0 to kill the bill.

Tax relief for older homes

SB 562 would provide potential property tax relief for repairs and updates of certain older homes. Municipalities could adopt a program for tax relief of an owner-occupied residential property with not more than four units located in a residential property “revitalization zone,” is at least 40 years old, and has an assessed valuation below the median residential properties in the town.

The intent is to improve neighborhoods which might be in disrepair and add more affordable homes to the housing market that otherwise might not be available. The legislative body of the town would need to adopt the tax relief program and the governing body of the town would then designate the “revitalization zone,” to which the tax relief for qualifying structures would apply.

The bill should be out of the Senate this week and headed over to the House of Representatives.

Legislative jargon: What are they talking about?

  • ITL: Inexpedient to Legislate; meaning the bill will not pass.
  • OTP: Ought to Pass; meaning the bill has passed.
  • OTPA: Ought to Pass with Amendment; the bill has passed, but with an amendment which might change the entire bill or just a portion of the bill.
  • Interim Study: The bill will be studied between legislative sessions and voted in the next legislative session. Often, it is a polite way to kill a bill.
  • Laid on Table: The House or Senate may vote again on the bill someday, but for now the bill has been set aside. If the session ends and the bill has not been taken off the table, the bill dies.
  • Conference Committee: If the House and Senate both want to pass a bill but can’t agree on the final version, a conference committee is formed to draft a compromise bill. Conference committees include both House and Senate members.

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 bob@nhar.com or 603-225-5549.

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