Legislative Update October 23, 2019

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October 23, 2019

Legislative Update: Halloween Episode

Vice President of Government Affairs

NHAR Study: Don’t be scared of kids; they won’t take a bite out of your wallet.

Many planning boards around the state seem to fear new housing due to potential burdens on school budgets, causing tax rates to rise. But is this accurate? Do kids cause tax rates to rise?

A study commissioned by NHAR, which reviewed every NH municipalities student population as well as its tax rates over the past decade, demonstrates that there is no correlation between a town’s student population and its education property tax rate. Many towns with a significant drop in its student population also saw the largest education tax increases, while some towns with increasing student populations saw their tax rates go virtually unchanged.


Richard England, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the Paul College of Business at UNH, authored the study. He notes that New Hampshire student population dropped by 10,320 children from 2007 through 2018. Only 29 of 234 municipalities saw an increase in student population, although a number of those were very small increases.

“Will the construction of new homes and the enrollment of additional children in its public schools necessarily raise the property tax rate,” Professor England concluded. “I believe the answer is definitely not.”

In addition to the full report, you can also look at both the Department of Education’s district enrollment history here, and DRA town-by-town historical data on tax rates here.

A Cabin in the Woods or the Bates Motel? Town officials are spooked by rentals; residents not so much.

The debate about short-term rentals is casting its ever-increasing shadow across New Hampshire. The question: should towns take away a private property owner’s ability to rent their property? Some towns have banned vacation and short-term rentals entirely while others are seeking to enact punitive regulations.

A poll conducted on behalf of NHAR shows that New Hampshire residents overwhelming support short-term rentals. When asked if they favor or oppose allowing property owners to rent out their property for short-term stays through companies like AirBnB, HomeAway, and V.R.B.O or local real estate offices, 79 percent of those polled were in favor, and just 11 percent were opposed.


A similar 75 percent supported statewide legislation allowing short-term property rentals in New Hampshire, while just 19 percent were opposed.

It is estimated that over $25 million in rooms and meals tax is potentially raised through short-term rentals, so the outcome of the debate will have significant consequences on the state budget. The Supreme Court released its first decision on the topic last month which upheld an ordinance in Portsmouth banning transient housing, City of Portsmouth vs. Working Stiffs.

A Nightmare on Elm Street? Not so much anymore.

The Veterans Administration Home Loan program has published new guidance indicating that moving forward loans in New Hampshire will no longer need shared maintenance agreements for shared private roads or driveways due to a new law championed by NHAR in the last legislative session.

Senate Bill 39 creates a statutory requirement that owners on private roads must pay “equitably to the reasonable cost of maintaining the private road,” which is the existing common law requirement. That language clears the path to having both the VA as well as Fannie Mae waive their mandate on having a written maintenance agreement among all the owners.

Buyers on private roads will now have access to the most affordable mortgage products. That should make buying a home on a private road a whole lot less frightening.

If you have questions regarding the 2019 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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