Compromise for NHAR septic bill
Also: short-term rental protections; lead paint bill
By Bob Quinn
Government Affairs Director, 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:
NHAR septic bill gets new life
However, the Senate, led by Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), was not ready to give up on the issue and worked with both NHAR and the Department of Environmental Services (DES) to craft a compromise. That new language has been attached to another bill, House Bill 258, which also deals with septic issues.
The new language would prohibit a municipality from mandating the septic tank and field be enlarged prior to approving a permit for an accessory dwelling unit. Instead, the bill codifies existing DES policy of requiring that a larger system be installed only when the current system fails. A town can still require the applicant to provide a new design for the larger system.
As a part of the compromise, the Senate has instructed DES to work with REALTORS this summer to reform existing rules on septic approval to make the regulations more consumer friendly.
Now that the DES objections to the bill have been removed, the prospect for approval in the House improves but is far from assured.
NHAR Short-term rental protections passes Senate
House Bill 654, as passed by the House, creates yet another study commission to look at taxation and regulation of short-term rentals. This would be the third such commission in as many years. The increasing use of marketing portals, like AirBnB, have some towns looking to curb short-term rentals in their communities.
However, NHAR worked with the Senate to amend House Bill 654 and add language which provides a greater level of protection to homeowners renting their homes on a short-term basis.
The Senate amendment bill makes it clear that a municipality can only demand to enter a home for an inspection if the town has “an individualized showing of probable cause,” meaning that a town will need to have more of a reason to inspect a private residence than the mere fact that an owner is engaged in short-term rentals. Instead, the town would need to have cause to believe that the homeowner is in violation of the housing standards statute (RSA 48-A).
If HB 654 becomes law, towns will need to provide written notification of the probable cause at least 48-hours prior to the inspection. It would also prohibit towns from requiring a license to rent out a residence.
The NH Municipal Association, as well as the NH Lodging Association, are opposed to NHAR’s amendment. The final vote on the House floor should happen in the next two weeks.
Lead paint bill hits a roadblock
After both the House of Representatives and Senate overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 247 – which among things mandates universal testing for lead in toddlers while creating a $6 million lead abatement fund for landlords – the bill has stalled out as the House Finance committee voted to retain the bill.
NHAR and other advocates in favor of the bill argue that lead abatement costs on landlords can result in higher rents for those least able to pay. SB 247 would also help landlords remove lead before a child is exposed.
House Finance may continue to work on SB 247 this fall, but a final vote will have to wait until next year.