Legislative Update: March 1, 2022

Legislative Update: March 1, 2022

Housing bills soon to hit House floor

By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer

Here is a summary of a few of the bills NHAR is following as part of the 2022 legislative session in Concord:

Full House of Representatives to take up Housing Bills

The House Municipal and County Government Committee voted last week to support a bill which would require as a matter of right any single-family lot in a residential zoning district served by municipal water and sewer to be eligible for up to four residential dwelling units. Under House Bill 1177, all setbacks, parking requirements, and other town zoning requirements would still apply. NHAR supports the bill.

The inventory crisis has resulted in the lowest number of properties for sale in decades. In fact, there were a mere 1,200 properties of all types for sale in January. Compare that to January 2016, when New Hampshire had 8,800 properties for sale – an 86 percent drop in just six years. 

Legislators argued that local government regulations have prevented market forces from meeting the demand for new housing and HB 1177 would be a step in the right direction in creating housing opportunities.

Unfortunately, the same committee narrowly rejected House Bill 1087, which states that no town ordinance can require more than a 10,000-square-foot lot size for single family housing when that lot is serviced by municipal water and sewer. NHAR supports the bill, but the House Municipal Committee very narrowly voted “Inexpedient to Legislate.”

Both bills will now go to the full House of Representatives for a final vote. NHAR will be initiating a Call for Action eNews in the next few days on HB 1177. Please, take a moment and respond to that Call for Action.

Bill would require developers to prepay for future road repairs

Senate Bill 246 is the result of a concern that private roads in condo and homeowner association developments are not built to last. Therefore, when the road needs to be repaired, the association must pay for the full cost. While well-intentioned, SB 246 could significantly drive up the cost of development, with those costs passed onto the buyers.

The bill requires that municipalities cannot approve plans for condo, homeowners or cooperative developments unless the declarant agrees to establish a capital reserve fund of no less than 50 percent of the cost to replace all roadways within the private community. Exactly how those funds would be released, and to whom, is not entirely clear. 

The declarant would also be required to provide a written estimate of the cost to replace the roadways for approval by the city or town. Again, it is not clear what the standard for replacement of the roadway would entail. 

The bill has passed out of the Senate and will be taken up in the House of Representatives next month.

Bill would prevent landlords from discriminating against voucher holders

House Bill 1291 would prohibit an owner’s ability to refuse to rent or otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to any prospective tenant on the basis that they are a participant in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as Section 8 vouchers. A landlord would only be permitted to deny a rental if the rent is higher than HUD permits, or if the unit fails to meet the Housing Quality Standards. 

The problem is that the owner would have to make his or her property available for inspection. And it is not clear what “deny a dwelling” means, exactly.

The House Judiciary Committee narrowly voted 11 -10 that the bill should be killed. A final vote will come next week on the House floor. 

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