Legislative Update: June 11, 2019
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:
Realtors Call for Action success:
House passes private road maintenance agreement legislation
After three-and-a-half years of debate, the NH House of Representatives finally passed legislation clearing the path for both the Veterans Administration and Fannie Mae to take a mortgage on a private road in New Hampshire even if there is no written agreement between the property owners.
Six hundred Realtors responded to NHAR’s Call for Action alert on Senate Bill 39. After a brief debate, the House voted on a voice vote to pass the legislation. The Senate had already passed the bill earlier this year.
The House version of SB 39 makes it clear that the intent is to codify existing common law practice in the enforcement of easements. The bill states that in the absence of an agreement governing maintenance of a private road, when more than one residential owner enjoys a common benefit from a private road, each residential owner shall contribute equitably to the reasonable cost of maintaining the private road. The legislation applies only to residential properties while making it clear that none of the new language applies to Class V and Class VI roads.
Both the VA and Fannie Mae require written agreements among all property owners unless there is a state law governing the maintenance of private roads. SB 39 is designed to provide that minimum requirement.
The Senate will still need to agree to the House version of the legislation before SB 39 can be sent to the Governor for his signature.
Senate kills municipal occupancy fee on short-term rentals/hotels
HB 641 would have allowed municipalities to charge a $2/night fee on all hotel stays, including vacation rentals. Earlier this spring, the House had passed the bill and a Senate Committee had voted 3-2 in recommending the bill should pass. However, the full Senate put the kibosh on the legislation by tabling the measure – which is a polite way to kill legislation.
Towns that cater to vacation travelers claimed they needed the funds generated by the nightly surcharge to provide capital improvements to municipal infrastructure, which are impacted by the visitor usage.
The Senate may have been reluctant to take up HB 641, which opponents were claiming was a new tax, due to the fact that they have authorized $20 million in unrestricted aid to cities and towns for the next biennium. Therefore, under the Senate budget proposal, towns will have access to additional dollars without the need for a new occupancy fee. NHAR had opposed HB 641.
Bill tweaking the construction property tax exemption moves forward
Two years ago, the legislature passed legislation which enabled a municipality to adopt a construction property tax exemption for commercial or industrial uses. The intent of the exemption is to provide incentives to businesses to build, rebuild, modernize, or enlarge within the municipality (RSA 72:81).
That legislation required a municipality which had adopted the property tax exemption to offer it uniformly within that municipality to all projects for which a proper application was filed.
Senate Bill 22, which was introduced this year, refines that statute to permit a community to offer the exemption exclusively to a specific group of parcels within the municipality – as opposed to uniformly across zoning districts. NHAR supported the change.
The bill has passed out of both the House and Senate, albeit as slightly different versions. If the Senate agrees to the House version of the bill, the legislation should make it to the Governor’s desk for his signature by the end of the month.
To view the most recent legislative chart, click here or view the attachment. If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2019 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