Legislative Update: June 25, 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:
Commission payments to LLC bill signed into law
The Governor has signed the NHAR-backed House Bill 268, which allows a principal broker to pay a commission to an unlicensed partnership, association, limited liability company, limited liability partnership or a corporation. The bill makes it clear that all members of any business entity receiving such a commission must hold a valid and active real estate license.
The new law will go into effect on August 4.
In 2018, the New Hampshire Real Estate Commission issued a declaratory ruling indicating such payments were not allowed by statute – even though it had become a common practice. NHAR worked with the Real Estate Commission to craft HB 268.
The new law requires that the broker must keep a record of who earned the commission and the amount of the commission for a period of three-years.
It also makes it clear that neither the broker nor licensee is given any immunity from liability in a regulatory action against the broker or licensee for a violation of the Real Estate Practice Act or a civil action.
NHAR Call For Action on Housing Appeals Board pays big dividends
Last Friday, NHAR issued a Call For Action in support of a new statewide Housing Appeals Board. Your emails helped legislators overcome a very organized opposition from a few local municipalities that opposed the new Board. A House-Senate conference committee agreed with Realtors and gave its thumbs-up, which likely ends an 18-month debate over the creation a statewide Housing Appeals Board.
The Housing Appeals Board will allow property owners to forgo a lengthy and expensive legal appeal to the Superior Court. Instead, for a $250 fee, property owners can take their appeals from a local land use board decision to this new, three-person Board. The Board members will be appointed by the Supreme Court and commissioned by the Governor for five-year terms.
The Board is required to follow the exact same legal standard of review as the Superior Court. The Board, just like the Superior Court, has the power and authority to hear and affirm, reverse or modify, in whole or in part, appeals of final decisions of municipal boards, committees and commissions regarding questions of housing and housing development. The Board will only hear cases after all local appeal processes have been exhausted.
There is still some uncertainty tied to the budget, but If all goes well the Housing Appeals Board could start hearing appeals in the late summer of 2020.
Many of the House and Senate conferees made a point of noting the large number of emails they received on the issue. Thank you to everyone who responded to the Call For Action.
Appeals from building and fire code should help property owners
The legislature also approved appeals from local building code decisions to the State Building Code Board of Review.
HB 710, which has now passed out of both the House and Senate, allows the State Building Code Review Board to hear appeals from property owners of any final decisions from any local building code board of appeals. The Building Code Review Board can determine if a local building or fire code official incorrectly interpreted a code, if the code doesn’t apply or if an alternative construction process is acceptable. The Board does not have authority to waive or grant variances to requirements of the code.
The bill is on its way to the Governor desk for his signature.
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