Legislative Update May 6, 2021
Senate committee: end of lease not ‘good cause’ for eviction
Also: Involuntarily merged lots statute may become permanent
By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer
The Senate Commerce Committee voted 4-1 earlier this week to kill House Bill 227, which would make the expiration of a lease a cause for evicting a tenant.
Under current state law, a landlord must provide “good cause” to evict, and the end of the contractual lease term is not considered good cause.
The House of Representatives passed House Bill 227 last month, prior to the Senate Committee’s vote against it. The full Senate will vote on the legislation next week.
Compromise on landlord/tenant nonpayment of rent legislation
Senate Bill 126, as introduced, would have included language that made it more challenging for a landlord to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent. NHAR and landlord groups voiced opposition to that section of the bill, a compromise was reached, and the bill has passed the Senate.
The legislation now states that if the following conditions are met, the eviction will be dismissed:
- The tenant, at any time prior to the court hearing, pays the landlord all rent due plus other lawful charges contained in the lease; and
- The tenant pays any filing fee and service charges incurred by the landlord in connection with the possessory action; and
- The landlord also submits receipts of such payments to the court.
If the landlord fails to file such receipts, the hearing on the merits must proceed. However, if the tenant proves that payment has been made, the eviction case will be dismissed. The tenant may use this provision for nonpayment of rent no more than three times within a 12-month period.
The bill also rewrites RSA 354-A as it relates to civil rights violations and discriminatory actions related to real estate transactions. The language will align state statute to existing federal Fair Housing Act language. NHAR worked with the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission on an amendment in the Senate which clarified some definitions and requirements of the bill.
The House Committee reviewing the amended bill will take action before the end of the month. NHAR supports the bill.
Involuntarily merged lots statute could become permanent
In 2011, the state passed legislation which allowed a property owner who has lots or parcels that were involuntarily merged by a town to be restored to their pre-merger status.
If any owner in the chain of title voluntarily merged the lots, all subsequent owners are prohibited from requesting restoration. The municipality has the burden of proof to show that any previous owner voluntarily merged the lots.
That original bill had a sunset provision, meaning property owners could only take advantage of the opportunity through 2016. The legislature has subsequently extended that deadline twice, and it is currently set to sunset the end of 2021.
House Bill 284 removes the sunset clause entirely and would make the provision permanent.
Both the House and Senate have passed the bill, although the Senate language differs slightly in that it makes it clear the applicant must apply to the town’s governing body. If the House accepts that minor alteration, the bill will go to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
NHAR supports the bill.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 603-225-5549.