OPLC to handle continuing education … for now

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April 25, 2023

Last week, the Real Estate Commission approved a standing order on how applications for accreditation of pre-licensing and continuing education instructors and courses are to be approved.

Confusion over who is responsible – the Real Estate Commission or the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification (OPLC) – had created a lengthy backlog of courses seeking approval. The standing order places the review in the hands of OPLC staff in order to create greater efficiency with administrative and clerical operations. 

This standing order was made on an interim basis, until the Commission undertakes rulemaking or the legislature takes action. Moving forward, the approval process should be significantly improved.

Driveway widths

House Bill 296 was introduced in response to a situation in which a town planning board approved a subdivision allowing for 14-foot wide driveways. After the project was completed, the contractor was denied a certificate of occupancy by the local fire department, which cited the state fire code mandating 20-foot wide driveways.

The original version of the bill would have mandated that provisions of the state fire code cannot supersede the authority of local land use boards. The bill, which has now passed out of the Senate and House, has been amended to clarify that the provision only applies to detached one- or two-family residential units, provided that the minimum driveway width is not less than 12 feet for driveways over 150 feet in length.

Before issuing the approval, the local land use boards must give due consideration to any written recommendations by the municipal fire chief. 

The Senate version is different from the House version of the bill, so those differences will need to be addressed before it can reach the Governor’s desk.

Construction bonding

Senate Bill 78 is intended to prevent unnecessary and often expensive bonding requirements mandated by municipalities for construction projects. 

The bill requires, at least once each year, or when substantial improvements to the development have been made, the municipalities to review and reduce their bonds if appropriate. The bill also mandates that a bond can be for no more than 15 percent of the estimated project cost, as opposed to the existing requirement of no more than 10 percent. 

Proponents argued that towns too often ignore the 10 percent standard anyway and that the bill  specifies no cost increases on the bonds be allowed for engineering, administration, or other similar reasons. The bill is also intended to allow builders to start their projects and get some prep work done before they are required to get the bond.

The bill has passed the Senate and is now being debated in the House Municipal and County Committee.

Quote of the Week

“Based on estimated population growth, almost 60,000 new housing units are needed between 2020 and 2030; nearly 90,000 units are needed between 2020 and 2040. This includes the state’s current housing shortage of over 23,500 units needed to stabilize the housing supply.”

2023 New Hampshire Statewide Housing Need Assessment 

NHAR’s legislative chart can be found here.

For more information, contact New Hampshire Realtors CEO Bob Quinn: bob@nhar.com.

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