Legislative Update: February 15, 2022

Legislative Update: February 15, 2022

Big vote on short-term rentals

By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer

Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee voted unanimously to support an amended version of Senate Bill 249, protecting the right of property-owners to rent on a short-term basis. 

NHAR worked with the Committee on the amendment and continues to encourage Senators to support this amended version of the bill. Over 1,000 REALTORS have responded to NHAR’s Call for Action and contacted their Senators in support of the legislation. 

The Committee amendment is a reasonable bipartisan effort at compromise, balancing the rights of private property owners with the ability of municipalities to ensure the health and safety of residents and visitors.

Our Realtors' message has been consistent throughout the debate: Short-term rentals should be well-regulated by towns but not banned. SB 249 accomplishes that goal.

Although some communities continue to incorrectly claim that the bill hinders their ability to regulate short-term rentals, it is important to note that the commerce committee amendment ensures that municipalities retain all existing regulatory powers for "noise, safety, health, sanitation, or other related municipal ordinances under duly adopted ordinances and regulations authorized under state statute.”

Additionally, the amended version of SB 249 expands municipal authority to enable towns and cities to mandate a registration and inspection of residential property used for short-term rentals. Neither authority is currently permitted under state statute. 

The bill also expressly grants towns the authority to revoke a registration if the property has repeatedly violated town ordinances.

Finally, the state budget will receive at least $40 million of meals and rooms revenue directly from short-term rentals. That money is jeopardized if SB 249 does not become law and towns continue to ban the use of private property from being rented.

Final floor action in the Senate on SB 249 is expected this week.

Are two-acre (or more) minimum lot sizes needed?

House Bill 1087 would prohibit a town from having an ordinance requiring more than a 10,000-square-foot lot size for single family housing lots when those lots are serviced by municipal water and sewer. NHAR testified in favor of the bill. 

In most communities, these large lot sizes were originally imposed due to setback requirements to avoid well water contamination and a need for enough area to install a private septic system. But even in cases in which a lot doesn’t have either a private well or septic system, many towns are still imposing these unnecessary lot sizes.

Allowing smaller lot sizes would slow rural land development and simultaneously make new housing more affordable. The legislation would only impact areas serviced by town water and sewage.

House Bill 1177  would require a town to allow, as a matter of right, any single-family lot in a residential district served by water and sewer to be used for four residential dwelling units. These may be configured as a single four-unit building, two duplex units, four single units, one duplex unit with two accessory dwelling units, four townhouses, or one single family house with three accessory dwelling units. 

Both bills are currently being debated in the House Municipal Committee.

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

"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."

Adam Gaudet, 2022 President, New Hampshire REALTORS