Legislative Update: March 12, 2024

Legislative Update: March 12, 2024

Housing bill under construction

Chief Executive Officer

Senate Bill 538 seeks to expand housing opportunities by expanding private property rights. The legislation, supported by NHAR, has several provisions designed to increase housing construction in the state, including:

  • Allows for conversions from office to residential use to be eligible for Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive, under RSA 79-E.
  • For lots with septic infrastructure, no ordinance could require lot sizes for single-family residential uses larger than what is required by the Department of Environmental Services for individual sewage disposal systems.
  • For lots with municipal water and sewer, no town ordinance could require lot sizes larger than 10,000 square feet.
  • Requires towns to allow for “alternative parking solutions” in housing developments, such as off-site parking within one-quarter mile of the development. 

The bill would also allow for a municipality to require a developer to create an “economically viable” percentage of the total number of units to be workforce housing. NHAR did object to this provision, as it is beyond a planning board's scope of expertise to gauge the “economic viability” of a project, and the provision could be used by some towns to block housing development. 

The bill is currently being considered by the Senate Election Law and Municipal Committee. NHAR is working with Senators on potential amendments to the legislation. 

ADUs by right

Seven years ago, the legislature passed a law mandating that in all municipalities, property owners must be allowed to add an attached accessory dwelling unit (ADU) as a matter of right, or by either conditional use permit or special exception (RSA 674:72). That law created new options to construct ADUs for many property owners, but some towns have used the permitting process as a barrier to approval, significantly increasing costs.

House Bill 1291 would grant a property owner the right to create an attached ADU, as opposed to having to go through a conditional use permit or special exception process. Towns would still retain existing authority to regulate for size, safety, water, sewer, and occupancy. 

The bill also would allow for a detached ADU as long as it meets all existing municipal lot requirements. NHAR testified in support of the bill.

Quote of the Week 

“There are no employers in New Hampshire that we’ve come across that are not talking about the housing issue as something that’s kind of a brake on their ability to be able to recruit and retain workforce.”

–Commissioner Taylor Caswell, NH Department of Business and Economic Affairs (ManchesterInkLink, Feb. 20)

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