Legislative Update May 28, 2021

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Legislative Update May 28, 2021

Senate resurrects housing language

By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer

Last week, two separate House Committees voted to eliminate proposed Commissions designed to review and advise the legislature on issues relative to the housing inventory shortage (SB 142 ad SB 86).  NHAR supported both bills.

In response to the House action, the state Senate, recognizing the need to explore all options on how best to increase inventory, voted to attach the language to unrelated bills, which would restore the Commissions.

The Commission to Study Barriers to Increased Land Development in New Hampshire, now part of House Bill 186, is charged with reviewing and potentially recommending solutions related to the development of more housing and better state planning. NHAR has a seat on the Commission.

Meanwhile, the Housing and Conservation Planning Program and Advisory Board, now part of House Bill 610, would provide technical assistance and matching grants to municipalities to plan for growth and development, including higher density and workforce housing opportunities, while protecting a community’s natural resources through more efficient and compact development.  Participation in the program would be voluntary. NHAR has a seat on the Advisory Board.

Further complicating the situation, both HB 186 and HB 610 are omnibus bills covering a number of diverse and unrelated topics. The House and Senate will likely hold Committees of Conference to iron out the differences in the House and Senate versions of the bills before they head to the Governor for his signature.

Senate Finance puts record amount
into the affordable housing fund.

In 2019, the legislature adopted legislation which mandated that each year the state will allocate $5 million from the Real Estate Transfer Tax to the affordable housing fund. Funds are to be used by the NH Housing Finance Authority to facilitate the purchase, rehabilitation, or construction of affordable housing, primarily for low- and moderate-income families.

This week, the Senate Finance Committee agreed to add another $25 million from the state surplus into the fund. The expenditure will need to be agreed to by the House of Representatives before it is included in the final state budget.

House Judiciary unanimously backs legislation impacting evictions
as well as Fair Housing requirements

Part 1 of Senate Bill 126 states that any possessory action based solely on nonpayment of rent will be dismissed if the tenant, at any time prior to the hearing, pays to the landlord outstanding rent and all other lawful charges. A tenant cannot defeat an eviction for nonpayment of rent by use of this section more than three times within a 12-month period.

Part 3, filed at the request of the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission, includes language which updates and replaces sections of the New Hampshire Fair Housing Statute to mirror language and definitions that are compliant with existing US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations.

HUD’s Fair Housing Law applies to the rental and sale of real estate. Under RSA 354-A, the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission has the power to receive, investigate, and pass upon complaints of illegal discrimination and receive reimbursement from HUD.

NHAR worked with the NH Human Rights Commission to ensure definitions and provisions matched existing HUD requirements. NHAR testified in favor of the legislation.

If the bill is approved by the full House of Representatives, it will go to the Governor for his signature.

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

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