Legislative Update: February 6, 2024

Legislative Update: February 6, 2024

NHAR opposes rent 'stabilization'

Chief Executive Officer

House Bill 1362 would authorize municipalities to enact measures, deemed rent "stabilization," to control rent increases. The bill would permit towns to cap all rent increases at 5 percent annually, although the property owner could seek approval from the town for any increase over that.

View House Bill 1362 here

The sponsor argued that unlike rent control laws, which impose strict limits on rent increases, rent stabilization policies allow landlords to raise rents by a certain percentage each year.

NHAR testified in opposition. The bill diminishes long-established property rights and, in essence, places all property rents under a municipal government’s control. NHAR argued that a better approach to stabilizing rents in New Hampshire would be to build more multi-family units.

Most importantly, HB 1362 would disincentive developers to build more units and therefore would lead to less affordable housing.

The House Municipal and County Affairs committee is expected to take action on the bill later this month. 

Mandating Shoreland Protection Act document

House Bill 1229 would require that prior to the sale, lease, or transfer of any shoreland protected property (RSA 483-B), the seller or their agent, would need to provide the buyer with the NH Department of Environmental Service’s Shoreland Minimum Standards document

The bill would set a precedent, since no other state document is required to be provided to a buyer or lessee prior to sale or lease. The original version of the bill would have mandated a $1,000 fine if the document was not presented – although the sponsor offered an amendment removing the fine.

NHAR testified in opposition. Only a relatively small number of properties on the shoreland transfer each year, and it would likely take decades for all owners to receive the NHDES document. NHAR suggested that either the municipality or NHDES mail the document to shoreland owners, which would take only a few weeks to complete and at a minimal cost. 

The House Resources, Recreation and Development committee will take action on the bill later this month.

Bill would alleviate certain septic requirements

This past summer, the NH House Special Committee on Housing requested that the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), in an attempt to create more affordable housing, suggest ways to lower septic installation costs by allowing for new construction methods. 

House Bill 1139 was introduced by NHDES to satisfy that request. The bill permits stone and pipe and concrete chamber systems for residential use to be designed and constructed 24 inches above the seasonal high-water table, providing that there is a minimum of 6 inches of sand under the stone and pipe system and that the distance above the seasonal high-water table is maximized to the extent practicable.

The House Resources, Recreation and Development committee has recommended that the full House of Representatives pass the bill. 

Quote of the Week

“Density and redevelopment are usually much more of a fiscal benefit to the town and taxpayers than greenfield redevelopment, meaning sprawl across the landscape. … (Density) adds more people to pay for the same infrastructure.”

– Exeter Town Planner Dave Sharples, discussing a proposed ballot measure to allow for mixed-use development in more zoning districts. “Exeter eyes zoning amendment to boost affordable housing,” Portsmouth Herald, Feb. 1, 2024

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."

Joanie McIntire, 2024 President, New Hampshire REALTORS