Legislative Update: March 17, 2020

Legislative Update: March 17, 2020

Legislative Update: March 17, 2020

Coronavirus prompts State House shutdown

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:

Legislature shuts down

Out of an abundance of caution prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Court has suspended all legislative activities for at least one week, March 16-20. The State House will be closed to legislative members, legislative staff and visitors, but remain open for governmental operations until further notice.

The House and Senate leadership has been authorized to alter deadlines. Currently, the deadline for both the House and Senate to complete work on their bills before sending them to the other body, known as Crossover day, is March 26.

The legislature did take actions on some bills last week.

Study committee to look at rental water tests

House Bill 1120 would have mandated that all landlords make water tests available to tenants and, if it is a private well, to install a water treatment system if that property has a well and the water does not meet water quality standards established by the Department of Environmental Services. NHAR and other landlord groups voiced concerns, and the House of Representatives agreed with those concerns.

HB 1120 was amended to create a legislative committee to study the establishment of water testing requirements for residential rental property. The bill will now move to the Senate.

Rent control bill moves forward

House Bill 1247 passed out of the House of Representatives last week. The bill would prevent a landlord from increasing rent by more than 5 percent of the tenant’s current rent unless the tenant has been served with notice at least 60 days prior. If the landlord wants to increase the rent by more than 8 percent, the landlord would have to give 90 days notice. These requirements would be in effect even if the landlord and tenant have a lease agreement. NHAR testified in opposition to the legislation.

The bill now heads to the Senate for a hearing.

Lead paint relocation bill passes

House Bill 1539, which has now passed out the House, would require property owners receiving an order for lead hazard reduction from the Department of Health and Human Services to make an unconditional written offer to relocate the tenant. The landlord would be required to return the tenant's entire security deposit, regardless of any arrears or the condition of the apartment, within 48 hours of the tenant's request.

The landlord would be required to offer to pay the difference between the tenant's rent for the temporary dwelling, and the tenant's rent at the time the landlord received the order from the department, until the department approves the dwelling for re-occupancy. There is a cap on the maximum rent, based on HUD guidelines for the area. The landlord would also need to pay for reasonable moving expenses.

The legislation would allow the landlord and tenant to come to mutually agreeable lump sum pay-out and allow the tenant to vacate permanently. 

The bill now moves to the Senate.

If you have questions regarding these or any other pieces of legislation from the 2020 New Hampshire legislative session, please contact New Hampshire REALTORS Vice President of Government Affairs Bob Quinn at bob@nhar.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."

Joanie McIntire, 2024 President, New Hampshire REALTORS