Legislative Update: January 23, 2020
By BOB QUINN
Vice President of Government Affairs
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:
Call for Action success!
In a highly successful opening to the 2020 legislative session, nearly 700 REALTORS sent out over 2,500 emails to members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives asking them to vote against House Bill 655, which would have made landlords and owners of private property liable for disorderly activities of their tenants and guests.
Your efforts succeeded and the House Municipal and County Committee’s “Ought to Pass” recommendation was rejected by a vote of 188-178. Through some legislative maneuvering the sponsors were able to prevent the full House from killing the bill permanently, so it has been “tabled” which means it could come up for a vote again this session.
Thank you to everyone who responded to the Call for Action. Clearly, your voice made the difference.
Is some relief for the housing crunch on the way?
With New Hampshire experiencing a housing inventory crisis, the legislature held hearings on a couple of bills which may alleviate the problem.
NHAR is strongly supportive of the Governor’s bi-partisan effort to create incentives for municipalities and developers in order to create more housing options. House Bill 1629 and House Bill 1632 would require, among other things, mandatory training for local land use board members, disincentivizing age-restricted housing, expanding the definition of workforce housing, providing a first-time homebuyer tax break and a Business Profits Tax reduction for developers, and creating a housing champion certification program which could provide pro-development communities more state funding.
NHAR testified in favor of both bills. Some town officials are already pushing back against requirements for even minimal training requirements for land use board members.
“Rent Control” bill seeks to regulate when a landlord can increase rent
This past week, NHAR testified against House Bill 1247 which would have mandated that a landlord could not increase a tenant’s rent by more than 5 percent without providing the tenant 90 days prior written notice. The bill also would require any new owners of property to give six months’ notice prior to any rent increase.
Current statute already requires 30 days’ notice to the tenant if there is no lease agreement in place.
NHAR testified that rental vacancy rates in New Hampshire are well below 1 percent. A healthy rental vacancy rate is usually considered 6 percent to 7 percent. Rent control laws such as HB 1247 would disincentive property owners from renting and therefore exacerbate the housing shortage.
NHAR is hopeful the House Judiciary Committee will reject the legislation, but we were alarmed when the Chair of the Committee responded to our testimony by stating, “People are free to make money in other ways if they do not want to be a landlord.” Of course, that is precisely our concern. Fewer landlords will leave more New Hampshire residents without adequate housing.
If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2020 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Vice President of Government Affairs Bob Quinn at email@example.com or 603-225-5549.
"Amidst the sea of change to which the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS has played witness in its 85 years, one thing that has remained constant is the Realtor 'R' and the value we bring to every real estate transaction in which we take part. We are part of a unique community where our familial cooperation transcends our business competition. These are not mere platitudes, but our living ideals, and they are, in fact, the foundation on which we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day affairs."
Jim Lee, 2021 President, New Hampshire REALTORS