Sunday, February 7, 2016

=Legislative Update, 2016 #05== Contact legislators now on major bills. Update included. New public hearings


Howdee everyone,
 
Important Updates:
HB1370, 7 Days Eviction Notice
There is strong push back from tenant advocates on the bill.  However, we are working with NHLA on an idea that might keep the non-paying of utilities alive and have the bill pass.  The idea is to extend the time the tenant can get utilities in their name from 7 days to any time up to the actual eviction hearing.
As long as the tenant reimburses any associated costs to the landlord.
If you haven’t already please tell us your thoughts on that idea.
 
There is also support for the amendment to put venue for the eviction case only in the court where the property resides.  We need to rally strong to oppose this amendment.
 
HB1204, Eviction Workout
The amendment previously mentioned with a small set of changes which would clarify “days” as “business days” is now complete.  See attached and notes in action items. 
 
HB1196, Higher Damage Amount In Eviction Case
There is some mixed response on this bill.  Surprisingly, in general we find that although this idea sounds appealing, in reality it is some what of a trap for unknowing landlords.  For that reason most of us are against this bill.  Read the full detail on the bill.
 
SB395, Landlord Required To Install AC Units
This is an interesting story.  At the initial House hearing it was revealed that the bill revolves around one incidence in the town of Tilton, NH where senior citizens are in great medical need of air conditioning and the management company may be trapped by HUD regulations & fire codes from allowing charities to donate money for handling the situation.
Essentially the sponsors are attempting to solve their unique Tilton one property problem by forcing the bill onto every landlord in NH.  It would be akin to killing an ant with a bazooka.
 
There is sympathy for the seniors in this situation so we need everyone to contact legislators to stop this bill.
 
 
Action items this week:
HB1370, 7 Days Eviction Notice
1. If not done already study HB1370(full detail below)
Bill text is at
 
See talking points updated with new info 1/31/16.
 
Develop some talking points as to why we need to keep the option for the landlord to have eviction hearings in the court where the property owner resides. Note the present law already allows for the tenant to petition the court to move the venue to the court where the tenant resides.  And if the eviction is not for non-payment of rent the court “shall” honor the tenant’s request for change of venue.   So we don't see a need for the amendment.
 
2. Email House Judiciary committee (HouseJudiciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
Ask them to support & pass HB1370 as written. Also give reasons why the bill is needed.
 
Also give reasons why we need to keep the option for the landlord to have eviction hearings in the court where the property owner resides and to not allow the amendment regarding forcing hearings to court where property is located.
A strong argument is that the tenant already has right to automatically be granted change of venue in all cases except non-payment.  Even in non-payment cases the court may grant change of venue.
 
Also suggest that the proposed amendment relating to homelessness shelters be moved to a bill more appropriate to shelters.
 
…….
HB1204, Eviction Workout
1. If not done already study HB1204(full detail below)
See the RPOA NHLA amendment attached.
 
Develop some talking points as to why we need in some cases the ability to have eviction work out agreements tenants that are court enforceable that assured we are paid and the tenant does not loose their home.
 
2. Email to House Judiciary committee (HouseJudiciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
Ask them to support & pass HB1204 as amended with the RPOA NHLA Amendment. Also give reasons why the bill is needed.
 
…….
HB1196, Higher Damage Amount In Eviction Case
Study the talking points in the full detail below.
Do you agree with us that this is a “landlord trap”.
Please email to House Judiciary committee (HouseJudiciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.us)
 
…….
HB1656, Real Estate Transfer Tax Exception
1. Email to HOUSE Ways and Means committee (HouseWays&MeansCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
If not already done ask them to support & pass HB1656. Also give reasons why the bill is needed.
 
…….
SB395, Landlord Required To Install AC Units
1. If not done already study SB395(full detail below)
See talking points updated with new info 1/31/16.
 
2. Email to SENATE Commerce Committee
Ask them to oppose SB395 and give reasons why.
 
…….
See more info in Summaries & Full Detail for each bill further below. (includes property owner position, contact info, Talking points, and more).
(to jump right to bill detail, use Control-F, Find).
 
…….
 
 
Hearings this week:
02/08/2016 at 01:20 PM    LOB Room 301
HB1219, Extend Time To Repurchase Tax Deeded Property
Level of Response: You Decide
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
02/08/2016 at 01:40 PM    LOB Room 301
HB1336, Double Interest Rate To Property Owner After Tax Abatement
Level of Response: You Decide
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
 
Hearings next week:
None scheduled so far
 
 
Further below is:
Bills Updated Status summary:
Full details on all bills above
(Which includes property owner position, contact info, talking points, and more)
 
Love & Light,
Nick Norman
Director of Legislative Affairs
==============================================
We only list the committee reports on the most important bills affecting the real estate business.  If you want to get the committee report on one of the other bills contact me & I will show you how to get them on line.  Its not terribly hard to get but not straight ahead either.
==============================================
Bills Updated Status summary:
We only list the committee reports on the most important bills affecting the real estate business.  If you want to get the committee report on one of the other bills contact me & I will show you how to get them on line.  It’s not terribly hard to get but not straight ahead either.
HB1370, 7 Days Eviction Notice     
Title: relative to termination of tenancy.
Property Owner Position: 
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
HB1204, Eviction Workout     
Title: relative to payment of rent pending the stay of an eviction proceeding.
Property Owner Position: 
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
HB1196, Higher Damage Amount In Eviction Case    
Title: relative to the amount of a money judgment for unpaid rent.
Property Owner Position: For, If Amended.
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
SB395, Landlord Required To Install AC Units    
Title: relative to minimum housing standards for tenants with health or respiratory issues.
Property Owner Position: Against
House Status: none
Senate Status: IN COMMITTEE
 
HB1219, Extend Time To Repurchase Tax Deeded Property     
Title: relative to the repurchase of tax-deeded property by the former owner and the costs therefor.
Property Owner Position: You Decide
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
HB1336, Double Interest Rate To Property Owner After Tax Abatement     
Title: relative to interest on abatements of taxes.
Property Owner Position: You Decide
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
==============================================
Full details on all bills above:
HB1370, 7 Days Eviction Notice
01/26/2016 at 10:00 AM   
Title: Title: relative to termination of tenancy.
 
Summary: This bill reduces the eviction notice from 30 days to 7 days in the following instances:
Failure of tenant to put utilities in their name when required to do so.
Someone staying in the unit who is not on the lease for more than 14 days consecutive or 30 days in a calendar year.
 
Property Owner Position: 
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1370 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
Last session, 2015, we attempted putting this bill through with the addition of unauthorized pets.
There was a large push back about the 7 day notice for unauthorized pets.  This session we are submitting the bill with out the inclusion of unauthorized pets.  
 
We have also heard that there is an amendment that will be introduced that would force jurisdiction of the eviction case to be the court where the property resides instead of allowing the option for the jurisdiction to be in the court where the property owner resides.  We need to defeat this amendment also.
 
This is one of the major bills this session and we still expect good sized push back and definitely need every one to show up at hearings and communicate to the committees and legislators to support this very important bill.
 
New Hampshire law allows a landlord in most residential tenancies to evict tenants by serving the tenants either a 7 days Eviction Notice or a 30 days eviction notice. Presently the 7 days eviction notice can only be used in certain limited circumstances.  Those circumstances are: (a) non-payment of rent  (b) substantial damages caused by the tenant, members of his family or guests (c) behavior by the tenant, members of  his family or guest that adversely affects the health, safety of the landlord or other tenants or failure to accept temporary alternative housing during lead paint abatement.  All other evictions require a 30 days Eviction Notice.
 
This bill has major advantages for landlords in dealing with the tenants who are purposely breaking the terms of a lease in the two circumstances outlined above, or do not have the financial means to abide by the terms of the lease.
 
HB1370, if enacted, would add two additional circumstances where a landlord could use a 7 days Eviction Notice.  These two are:
(1) Failure to establish utilities in the tenant’s name or terminating utility service when the tenant is required to pay such under the terms of the lease. Please note, that each of the above categories has to be a breach of the lease. For those landlords who do not use leases, or do not prohibit these categories in their leases, they would not be able to use the provisions of this bill, if it became law.
(2) a person staying in the leased premises who is not a party to the lease, and does not have the consent of the landlord, for more than 14 consecutive days or more than 30 days in a calendar year 
 
If a tenant does not put utilities into his or her name, or terminates utilities or has utilities shut off on them, one of two things could happen.  The first is creating a risk of the building freezing during the winter. The longer the utilities are off, the greater the risk of damage to the building. The second is that the utilities are often transferred into the landlord’s name, and the landlord has to pay for services that the tenant agreed to pay for when the tenant signed the lease. Since a landlord may not terminate utilities on a tenant the landlord then remains stuck paying for a tenant’s utilities which the tenant should be paying per the lease agreement. Reducing the time that tenant had to use someone else’s services, would reduce the loss to the landlord. This is no different than a non-payment of rent, especially since rents are reduced when utilities, principally heat, is not included.
 
The bill would also allow the tenant to cure these lease violations and stop the eviction by having the utilities billed to the tenant and paying the landlord any costs the landlord incurred in the seven days.  The tenant can only cure this violation three times in the last 12 months, however.
 
Extra people who move into our apartments, especially if the landlord pays for heat and hot water, use these utilities solely at the expense of the landlord.  The additional people not only increase utility usage but also wear and tear of the apartment, again at the landlord’s expense. These people also are not parties to lease, many times do not know or care about the terms of the lease or the rules and regulations of the landlord, and have nothing to lose if they violate the terms of the lease. Since they are invited into the apartment by the tenant, the police are reluctant to issue a no trespass order. Basically, these extra people are living for free at the landlord’s expense. Some may even consider these people stealing our services.  And what about those cases where an invitee of a tenant takes over the apartment saying they are the tenant but have never signed or agreed to any terms of the lease.  People who are “crashing” at someone's apartment, can be a danger to the landlord and other tenants unless properly screened and approved.
 
The tenant can also cure the lease violation of an extra person living in the apartment by having the extra person permanently move from the apartment within the seven days. The tenant can only cure this lease violation once.
 
Landlords often get complaints from other tenants at the property about these issues.  This bill would help landlords to more quickly address the concerns of other tenants in the building & enforce the terms of the lease more efficiently.
 
This is our bill and we need to fully support its passage.
 
Here are some thoughts relating to the amendment taking away a landlord’s option to hold eviction hearings in the court where the property owner resides.
a. Landlords have way way more eviction hearings than a single tenant so the jurisdiction really should be in the court where the property owner resides.
b. Tenants can request jurisdiction be moved to their location which the court can grant if it sees the need.
c. Tenants very often don't even show up anyway. Requesting a hearing was simply a delaying tactic.
d. The landlord is already inconvenienced by the tenant not paying the rent, providing free housing during the eviction process.  If the tenant paid the rent it would not be an issue.  Why make the eviction more difficult for the small businessman (landlord)?
e. The courts have gone electronic, on line, for small claims.  Word is that eviction filing etc will be online in less than a year.
 
Additionally,
This amendment for changing the venue is not needed because present law already states that in case other than non-payment the court “shall” transfer the venue.   In cases of non-payment the court “may” transfer venue.  The RSA is quoted immediately below.
 
“RSA 502-A:16-a. Change of Venue in Possessory Actions Regarding Residential Property
 
Venue in possessory actions concerning residential property brought pursuant to RSA 540 which are initiated in a judicial district other than that in which the defendant resides may be transferred as follows: I. In cases based on grounds other than nonpayment of rent, venue shall be transferred to the judicial district in which the defendant resides at the request of the defendant. II. In cases based on nonpayment of rent, venue may be transferred to the judicial district in which defendant resides when the court, in its discretion, determines that justice so requires.”
 
A plan language explanation of the above provision is included on page to of the LT-Writ underneath the caption in bold “Information for tenant”.
 
At the House Judiciary Committee hearing, 1/26/16, there was an amendment introduced that would add similar language to the RSA related to homeless shelters.  We are not aware of any concerns for us on that issue.  There were several suggestions that the amendment be moved to another bill that would be more related to homelessness shelters which is completely separate body of law.
=====================
HB1204, Eviction Workout
01/26/2016 at 11:00 AM   
Title: Title: relative to payment of rent pending the stay of an eviction proceeding.
 
Summary: Provide statutory method for allowing eviction work out agreements which became disallowed in District Courts because of the NH Supreme Court Mountain View v. Robson decision in May of 2015.
 
Property Owner Position: 
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1204 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
First thing to say is disregard the bill as originally written.  We have been negotiating with NHLA on the language for this bill & have an agreed upon amendment which rewrites the bill. So do not spend much time reviewing the original bill.  We are calling the amendment the “1/24/16 HB1204 RPOA NHLA Amendment”.   Please urge legislators to pass the bill as amended by the “1/24/16 HB1204 RPOA NHLA Amendment.”. 
 
Based upon RSA 540:13c, Landlords and Tenants have entered into agreements in eviction actions based upon non-payment of rent allowing tenants to remain in possession of the leased premises so long as they make payments that are written in the agreement. In many instances, the Landlord and Tenant agree to a schedule where the tenant pays rental arrearages, but is also required to pay future rent as it becomes due.
 
          These agreements are advantageous to both the Landlord and the Tenant. The Tenant has the opportunity to remain in their home and not be evicted. The Tenant can pay the rental arrears over a period of time that they have negotiated with the Landlord, while the Tenant does not fall further behind in rent. This is particularly helpful to a tenant who fell behind in rent due to a sickness, injury or slowdown in work, who has subsequently overcome these problems.
 
          The Landlord gains the opportunity to be paid the arrears, and future rent, without the need to file a new eviction action should the tenant not abide by the agreement.
 
          However, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire, in the case of Mountain View Park LLC v. Robson, decided August 11, 2015, ruled that agreements entered into between Landlords and Tenants in non-payment of rent cases, cannot contain provisions regarding the future payment of rent. Any agreement containing clauses requiring the Tenant to pay future rent submitted by the parties to an eviction action based upon non-payment of rent will have to be rejected by the Circuit Court. This decision takes away from both Landlords and Tenants an effective tool to resolve eviction cases to their mutual benefit. 
 
HB1204 as we have amended it revises the statute to specifically allow these type of agreements and spells out the procedures for the court to follow if the tenant fails to make payments as required by the agreement.
 
Please note that we did some research and found out that there presently is no statutory guidance or guidance in rules from Judge Kelly's office for the affidavit of non-compliance process.  This means courts could get to the process where the tenant does not make payment and have sympathy for tenant and not order the writ of possession or severely drag this out.  For instance, presently Derry court allows 10 days from landlord’s affidavit of non-compliance (tenant didn’t make payment) for tenant to respond and then it would schedule hearing.  Based on our research many courts would be like Derry which is why we need the extra detail of the later part of this bill.
=====================
HB1196, Higher Damage Amount In Eviction Case
01/26/2016 at 01:00 PM   
Title: Title: relative to the amount of a money judgment for unpaid rent.
 
Summary: Increases the amount of unpaid rent a landlord can seek in an eviction action from $1,500 to $5,000.
 
Property Owner Position: For, If Amended.
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1196 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
This bill amends RSA 540:13 by allowing the landlord to ask for a judgment of up to $5,000 of unpaid rent in an eviction action. The bill does not have any limit or does current law, on the amount a tenant can claim against the landlord in a counterclaim in the eviction action. (The upper limit of the amount claimed in a counterclaim most likely will be the maximum amount allowed in civil suits in Circuit Courts).
 
Although the bill initially sounds like a good idea, on closer inspection it poses a very serious problem.  If a landlord were to claim damages in excess of $1,500, pursuant to RSA 502-A:14, a defendant can ask that the case be transferred to the Superior Court. If this happens, the entire action could be transferred, including the eviction case, and the delays can be substantial. 
 
Currently, and under the bill, if the tenant files a counterclaim, and the court determines that the amount owed to the tenant equals or exceeds the amount owned by the tenant to the landlord, the judgment in the possessory action will be awarded to the tenant.  The landlord could also be ordered to pay money to the defendant, and still have the defendant in his or her building.
 
A general recommendation for landlords, from attorneys specializing in landlord tenant law, is not to seek a judgment for unpaid rent in an eviction action to avoid the above.  Commonly called “don’t check the box” (on the landlord and tenant writ).  This is because if the landlord does not ask for a monetary judgment, the tenant cannot file a counterclaim.
 
We need to seek an amendment to the bill before we can support it. The bill has to allow the possessory action to stay in the Circuit Court and be heard as if there is no claim for unpaid rent or a counterclaim. 
 
Otherwise, we feel this change to the law could be somewhat of a trap to unwary landlords.
=====================
SB395, Landlord Required To Install AC Units
01/28/2016 at 09:00 AM   
Title: Title: relative to minimum housing standards for tenants with health or respiratory issues.
 
Summary: A bill to require, as a minimum housing standard, that landlords install and maintain air conditioning units for tenants with respiratory or other health related issues requiring air conditioning.
 
Property Owner Position: Against
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: SB395 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
Short version:
This is an interesting story.  At the initial House hearing it was revealed that the bill revolves around one incidence in the town of Tilton, NH where senior citizens are in great medical need of air conditioning and the management company may be trapped by HUD regulations & fire codes from allowing charities to donate money for handling the situation.
For instance, the town and different charities and donating time, supplies and money to solve the issue but we hear that by HUD regulations money donated to the seniors puts them above an income guideline.
 
This is an extremely localized problem related to one property in one town in NH.
 
Essentially the sponsors are attempting to solve their unique Tilton one property problem by forcing the bill onto every landlord in NH.  It would be akin to killing an ant with a bazooka.
 
There is sympathy for the seniors in this situation so we need everyone to contact legislators to stop this bill.
 
More detail:
This bill would require that all residential landlords have properly working air conditioning units in apartments with tenants who have health issues requiring air conditioning.  Further, the tenant can request that the unit stay in the apartment, even during the winter and when the landlord pays heat.
 
First, the bill if it became law, could be overly burdensome to many of us.  We would have to buy air conditioners for everyone who claims such a health issue.  It is unclear what type of machine would suffice. Would a standard window unit work without special filters?  Do we have to install central air conditioning in each unit?  Do we have to air condition every room in an apartment?  How do we keep the tenant from stealing the air conditioners when they move out?
 
Second the bill is poorly drafted and not thought out.  How is it determined who needs an air conditioner?  What about the person with allergies who wants us to pay for the machine so he does not have to?  This bill is ripe for abuse.  The questions above also show the ambiguity in the bill.
What about municipal housing authorities running public housing.  Will they have to install air conditioners?  Who pays for it?
=====================
HB1219, Extend Time To Repurchase Tax Deeded Property
02/08/2016 at 01:20 PM    LOB Room 301
Title: Title: relative to the repurchase of tax-deeded property by the former owner and the costs therefor.
 
Summary: This bill extends the time for a former owner to pay the costs of repurchasing a tax deeded property from the town and deletes a 15% penalty charge added to such costs.
 
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1219 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
The bill would be helpful to home owners in hardship cases but would only affect a small number of property owners which is why we listed it as “You Decide”.
 
One of the core team that analyzes bills is a town selectman and we have included his thoughts as a selectmen.  
 
Selectman thoughts:
A municipality needs to plan on money just like a business. When taxes are not paid it hurts the 99% who do pay. We compensate for that with high interest rates and, eventually, taking the property. It is a long process but once all these years are up it is time to get things resolved. As it stands now, besides the 3 years to pay before the property is taken, there is also a 3 year option to buy the property back. This makes 6 years! That’s enough. If it is ultimately redeemed it is generally because there is a buyer in the wings meaning it has finally become profitable for the delinquent taxpayer to broker a deal. The 15% is a fair cut for the taxpayers who have held the bag for 6 years.
=====================
HB1336, Double Interest Rate To Property Owner After Tax Abatement
02/08/2016 at 01:40 PM    LOB Room 301
Title: Title: relative to interest on abatements of taxes.
 
Summary: This bill would increase the interest rate from 6% to 12% of the amount of taxes actually returned to a property owner after a tax abatement. The same would occur for so call jeopardy tax abatements. 
 
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1336 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
The bill would only affect a small number of property owners which is why we listed it as “You Decide”.
There are different thoughts on our core team and are included below.
 
The increased interest rate is more in line with interest rates charged by other municipalities IE water dept, tax collector.
 
The advantage of the bill is that municipalities would be under more pressure to make correct assessments given the high interest rate. At the same time, the cities and towns would have more incentive to fight abatements. The higher interest rates could also potentially increase taxes for everyone in that community as the city or town would have to fund the payment of the interest from somewhere.
The doubling of the interest rate in the current low interest rate environment is troubling.  It seems like an excessive amount to be paid.
 
One of the core team that analyzes bills is a town selectman and we have included his thoughts as a selectmen.  
 
Selectman thoughts:
I, (selectman), know from my own experience that assessors are fair and have the sole objective of getting the values right. The selectmen in a town are the assessing officials (some towns have an “assessor” who does the work). However, when an appeal is made, the selectman review every case and call for the rational for every decision. We often find for the taxpayer. There is no axe to grind and there is no advantage being sought. Occasionally town gets it wrong. When that happens the taxpayer is granted relief and paid back at a very attractive interest rate. (Where anyone can place their money, risk free, at 6% these days). It is outrageous to think taxpayers should pay 12%, a punitive interest rate, when the town simply made a good faith, yet somewhat inaccurate, attempt to do a very hard job, set value on a particular piece of property.
=====================
==============================================
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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Legislative Update - This is it! Contact legislators now on major bills. New public hearing


Howdee everyone,
 
Important Updates:
HB1370, 7 Days Eviction Notice
The first public hearing was this past week.  Many people showed up, there was not enough time for everyone to speak, the hearing was suspended and reopened later.  Unfortunately, when this happens the people that didn’t speak virtually never come back because understandably they can’t sacrifice their entire day.
There is strong push back from tenant advocates on the bill.  We’re guessing it would be unlikely to keep the provision of unauthorized guests.  However, we are working with NHLA on an idea that might keep the non-paying of utilities alive and have the bill pass.  The idea is to extend the time the tenant can get utilities in their name from 7 days to any time up to the actual eviction hearing.
As long as the tenant reimburses any associated costs to the landlord.
Please tell us your thoughts on that idea.
 
There is also support for the amendment to put venue for the eviction case only in the court where the property resides.
 
HB1204, Eviction Workout
It was a pleasure to go into the hearing with an agreement already in place by working jointly with the tenant advocates.  There is likely to be a small set of changes in the RPOA NHLA amendment which would clarify “days” as “business days”.  We also got a compromised agreement on this change with NHLA to reduce the delay it could cause in the final “affidavit of non-compliance” stage of this process.
 
HB1196, Higher Damage Amount In Eviction Case
There is some mixed response on this bill.  Surprisingly, in general we find that although this idea sounds appealing, in reality it is some what of a trap for unknowing landlords.  For that reason most of us are against this bill.  Read the full detail on the bill.
 
SB395, Landlord Required To Install AC Units
This is an interesting story.  At the initial House hearing it was revealed that the bill revolves around one incidence in the town of Tilton, NH where senior citizens are in great medical need of air conditioning and the management company may be trapped by HUD regulations & fire codes from allowing charities to donate money for handling the situation.
Essentially the sponsors are attempting to solve their unique Tilton one property problem by forcing the bill onto every landlord in NH.  It would be akin to killing an ant with a bazooka.
 
There is sympathy for the seniors in this situation so we need everyone to contact legislators to stop this bill.
  
 
Action items this week:
HB1370, 7 Days Eviction Notice
1. If not done already study HB1370(full detail below)
Bill text is at
 
See talking points updated with new info 1/31/16.
 
Develop some talking points as to why we need to keep the option for the landlord to have eviction hearings in the court where the property owner resides. Note the present law already allows for the tenant to petition the court to move the venue to the court where the tenant resides.  And if the eviction is not for non-payment of rent the court “shall” honor the tenant’s request for change of venue.   So we don't see a need for the amendment.

 
2. Email House Judiciary committee (HouseJudiciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
Ask them to support & pass HB1370 as written. Also give reasons why the bill is needed.
 
Also give reasons why we need to keep the option for the landlord to have eviction hearings in the court where the property owner resides and to not allow the amendment regarding forcing hearings to court where property is located.
A strong argument is that the tenant already has right to automatically be granted change of venue in all cases except non-payment.  Even in non-payment cases the court may grant change of venue.
 
Also suggest that the proposed amendment relating to homelessness shelters be moved to a bill more appropriate to shelters.
 
…….
HB1204, Eviction Workout
1. If not done already study HB1204(full detail below)
See the RPOA NHLA amendment attached.
 
Develop some talking points as to why we need in some cases the ability to have eviction work out agreements tenants that are court enforceable that assured we are paid and the tenant does not loose their home.
 
2. Email to House Judiciary committee (HouseJudiciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
Ask them to support & pass HB1204 as amended with the RPOA NHLA Amendment. Also give reasons why the bill is needed.
 
…….
HB1196, Higher Damage Amount In Eviction Case
Study the talking points in the full detail below.
Do you agree with us that this is a “landlord trap”.
Please write to 
 
…….
HB1656, Real Estate Transfer Tax Exception
1. Email to HOUSE Ways and Means committee (HouseWays&MeansCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
If not already done ask them to support & pass HB1656. Also give reasons why the bill is needed.
…….
SB395, Landlord Required To Install AC Units
1. If not done already study SB395(full detail below)
See talking points updated with new info 1/31/16.
 
2. Email to SENATE Commerce Committee
Ask them to oppose SB395 and give reasons why.
 
…….
See more info in Summaries & Full Detail for each bill further below. (includes property owner position, contact info, Talking points, and more).
(to jump right to bill detail, use Control-F, Find).
 
…….
In general, we need some volunteers to rally troops to show up at hearings.  Would anyone help out?
 
 
Hearings this week:
02/02/2016 at 10:00 AM    SH Room 103
SB342, Business Profits Tax Changes
Level of Response: You Decide
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
02/02/2016 at 10:15 AM    LOB Room 306
HB1282, Adopt 2015 "Uniform" Codes
Level of Response: You Decide
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
02/03/2016 at 09:45 AM    LOB Room 101
SB446, Building Code Requirements
Level of Response: Email legislators Call Legislators
Property Owner Position: For, Limited Impact
 
02/03/2016 at 10:00 AM    LOB Room 208
HB1276, Property Tax Abatements
Level of Response: You Decide
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
02/03/2016 at 10:00 AM    LOB Room 302
HB1618, License For Debt Adjustment Services
Level of Response: You Decide
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
02/03/2016 at 11:00 AM    LOB Room 212
HB636, Forfeiture Of Property
Level of Response: Email Call Legislators
Property Owner Position: Against
 
 
Hearings next week:
None scheduled so far
 
 
Further below is:
Bills Updated Status summary:
Full details on all bills above
(Which includes property owner position, contact info, talking points, and more)
 
Love & Light,
Nick Norman
Director of Legislative Affairs
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We only list the committee reports on the most important bills affecting the real estate business.  If you want to get the committee report on one of the other bills contact me & I will show you how to get them on line.  Its not terribly hard to get but not straight ahead either.
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Bills Updated Status summary:
We only list the committee reports on the most important bills affecting the real estate business.  If you want to get the committee report on one of the other bills contact me & I will show you how to get them on line.  It’s not terribly hard to get but not straight ahead either.
HB1370, 7 Days Eviction Notice     
Title: relative to termination of tenancy.
Property Owner Position: 
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
HB1204, Eviction Workout     
Title: relative to payment of rent pending the stay of an eviction proceeding.
Property Owner Position: 
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
HB1196, Higher Damage Amount In Eviction Case    
Title: relative to the amount of a money judgment for unpaid rent.
Property Owner Position: For, If Amended.
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
SB395, Landlord Required To Install AC Units    
Title: relative to minimum housing standards for tenants with health or respiratory issues.
Property Owner Position: Against
House Status: none
Senate Status: IN COMMITTEE
 
SB342, Business Profits Tax Changes     
Title: making certain changes to business profits tax provisions affecting a business organization when owners sell or exchange ownership interests in the business.
Property Owner Position: You Decide
House Status: none
Senate Status: IN COMMITTEE
 
HB1282, Adopt 2015 "Uniform" Codes     
Title: relative to the state building code.
Property Owner Position: You Decide
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
SB446, Building Code Requirements     
Title: relative to requirements of the state building code.
Property Owner Position: For, Limited Impact
House Status: none
Senate Status: IN COMMITTEE
 
HB1276, Property Tax Abatements     
Title: relative to a taxpayer's application for a property tax abatement.
Property Owner Position: You Decide
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
HB1618, License For Debt Adjustment Services     
Title: relative to debt adjustment services.
Property Owner Position: You Decide
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
 
HB636, Forfeiture Of Property     
Title: relative to forfeiture of property.
Property Owner Position: For
House Status: IN COMMITTEE
Senate Status: none
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Full details on all bills above:
HB1370, 7 Days Eviction Notice
01/26/2016 at 10:00 AM   
Title: Title: relative to termination of tenancy.
 
Summary: This bill reduces the eviction notice from 30 days to 7 days in the following instances:
Failure of tenant to put utilities in their name when required to do so.
Someone staying in the unit who is not on the lease for more than 14 days consecutive or 30 days in a calendar year.
 
Property Owner Position: 
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1370 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
Last session, 2015, we attempted putting this bill through with the addition of unauthorized pets.
There was a large push back about the 7 day notice for unauthorized pets.  This session we are submitting the bill with out the inclusion of unauthorized pets.  
 
We have also heard that there is an amendment that will be introduced that would force jurisdiction of the eviction case to be the court where the property resides instead of allowing the option for the jurisdiction to be in the court where the property owner resides.  We need to defeat this amendment also.
 
This is one of the major bills this session and we still expect good sized push back and definitely need every one to show up at hearings and communicate to the committees and legislators to support this very important bill.
 
New Hampshire law allows a landlord in most residential tenancies to evict tenants by serving the tenants either a 7 days Eviction Notice or a 30 days eviction notice. Presently the 7 days eviction notice can only be used in certain limited circumstances.  Those circumstances are: (a) non-payment of rent  (b) substantial damages caused by the tenant, members of his family or guests (c) behavior by the tenant, members of  his family or guest that adversely affects the health, safety of the landlord or other tenants or failure to accept temporary alternative housing during lead paint abatement.  All other evictions require a 30 days Eviction Notice.
 
This bill has major advantages for landlords in dealing with the tenants who are purposely breaking the terms of a lease in the two circumstances outlined above, or do not have the financial means to abide by the terms of the lease.
 
HB1370, if enacted, would add two additional circumstances where a landlord could use a 7 days Eviction Notice.  These two are:
(1) Failure to establish utilities in the tenant’s name or terminating utility service when the tenant is required to pay such under the terms of the lease. Please note, that each of the above categories has to be a breach of the lease. For those landlords who do not use leases, or do not prohibit these categories in their leases, they would not be able to use the provisions of this bill, if it became law.
(2) a person staying in the leased premises who is not a party to the lease, and does not have the consent of the landlord, for more than 14 consecutive days or more than 30 days in a calendar year 
 
If a tenant does not put utilities into his or her name, or terminates utilities or has utilities shut off on them, one of two things could happen.  The first is creating a risk of the building freezing during the winter. The longer the utilities are off, the greater the risk of damage to the building. The second is that the utilities are often transferred into the landlord’s name, and the landlord has to pay for services that the tenant agreed to pay for when the tenant signed the lease. Since a landlord may not terminate utilities on a tenant the landlord then remains stuck paying for a tenant’s utilities which the tenant should be paying per the lease agreement. Reducing the time that tenant had to use someone else’s services, would reduce the loss to the landlord. This is no different than a non-payment of rent, especially since rents are reduced when utilities, principally heat, is not included.
 
The bill would also allow the tenant to cure these lease violations and stop the eviction by having the utilities billed to the tenant and paying the landlord any costs the landlord incurred in the seven days.  The tenant can only cure this violation three times in the last 12 months, however.
 
Extra people who move into our apartments, especially if the landlord pays for heat and hot water, use these utilities solely at the expense of the landlord.  The additional people not only increase utility usage but also wear and tear of the apartment, again at the landlord’s expense. These people also are not parties to lease, many times do not know or care about the terms of the lease or the rules and regulations of the landlord, and have nothing to lose if they violate the terms of the lease. Since they are invited into the apartment by the tenant, the police are reluctant to issue a no trespass order. Basically, these extra people are living for free at the landlord’s expense. Some may even consider these people stealing our services.  And what about those cases where an invitee of a tenant takes over the apartment saying they are the tenant but have never signed or agreed to any terms of the lease.  People who are “crashing” at someone's apartment, can be a danger to the landlord and other tenants unless properly screened and approved.
 
The tenant can also cure the lease violation of an extra person living in the apartment by having the extra person permanently move from the apartment within the seven days. The tenant can only cure this lease violation once.
 
Landlords often get complaints from other tenants at the property about these issues.  This bill would help landlords to more quickly address the concerns of other tenants in the building & enforce the terms of the lease more efficiently.
 
This is our bill and we need to fully support its passage.
 
Here are some thoughts relating to the amendment taking away a landlord’s option to hold eviction hearings in the court where the property owner resides.
a. Landlords have way way more eviction hearings than a single tenant so the jurisdiction really should be in the court where the property owner resides.
b. Tenants can request jurisdiction be moved to their location which the court can grant if it sees the need.
c. Tenants very often don't even show up anyway. Requesting a hearing was simply a delaying tactic.
d. The landlord is already inconvenienced by the tenant not paying the rent, providing free housing during the eviction process.  If the tenant paid the rent it would not be an issue.  Why make the eviction more difficult for the small businessman (landlord)?
e. The courts have gone electronic, on line, for small claims.  Word is that eviction filing etc will be online in less than a year.
 
Additionally,
This amendment for changing the venue is not needed because present law already states that in case other than non-payment the court “shall” transfer the venue.   In cases of non-payment the court “may” transfer venue.  The RSA is quoted immediately below.
 
“RSA 502-A:16-a. Change of Venue in Possessory Actions Regarding Residential Property
 
Venue in possessory actions concerning residential property brought pursuant to RSA 540 which are initiated in a judicial district other than that in which the defendant resides may be transferred as follows: I. In cases based on grounds other than nonpayment of rent, venue shall be transferred to the judicial district in which the defendant resides at the request of the defendant. II. In cases based on nonpayment of rent, venue may be transferred to the judicial district in which defendant resides when the court, in its discretion, determines that justice so requires.”
 
A plan language explanation of the above provision is included on page to of the LT-Writ underneath the caption in bold “Information for tenant”.
 
At the House Judiciary Committee hearing, 1/26/16, there was an amendment introduced that would add similar language to the RSA related to homeless shelters.  We are not aware of any concerns for us on that issue.  There were several suggestions that the amendment be moved to another bill that would be more related to homelessness shelters which is completely separate body of law.
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HB1204, Eviction Workout
01/26/2016 at 11:00 AM   
Title: Title: relative to payment of rent pending the stay of an eviction proceeding.
 
Summary: Provide statutory method for allowing eviction work out agreements which became disallowed in District Courts because of the NH Supreme Court Mountain View v. Robson decision in May of 2015.
 
Property Owner Position: 
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1204 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
First thing to say is disregard the bill as originally written.  We have been negotiating with NHLA on the language for this bill & have an agreed upon amendment which rewrites the bill. So do not spend much time reviewing the original bill.  We are calling the amendment the “1/24/16 HB1204 RPOA NHLA Amendment”.   Please urge legislators to pass the bill as amended by the “1/24/16 HB1204 RPOA NHLA Amendment.”. 
 
Based upon RSA 540:13c, Landlords and Tenants have entered into agreements in eviction actions based upon non-payment of rent allowing tenants to remain in possession of the leased premises so long as they make payments that are written in the agreement. In many instances, the Landlord and Tenant agree to a schedule where the tenant pays rental arrearages, but is also required to pay future rent as it becomes due.
 
          These agreements are advantageous to both the Landlord and the Tenant. The Tenant has the opportunity to remain in their home and not be evicted. The Tenant can pay the rental arrears over a period of time that they have negotiated with the Landlord, while the Tenant does not fall further behind in rent. This is particularly helpful to a tenant who fell behind in rent due to a sickness, injury or slowdown in work, who has subsequently overcome these problems.
 
          The Landlord gains the opportunity to be paid the arrears, and future rent, without the need to file a new eviction action should the tenant not abide by the agreement.
 
          However, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire, in the case of Mountain View Park LLC v. Robson, decided August 11, 2015, ruled that agreements entered into between Landlords and Tenants in non-payment of rent cases, cannot contain provisions regarding the future payment of rent. Any agreement containing clauses requiring the Tenant to pay future rent submitted by the parties to an eviction action based upon non-payment of rent will have to be rejected by the Circuit Court. This decision takes away from both Landlords and Tenants an effective tool to resolve eviction cases to their mutual benefit. 
 
HB1204 as we have amended it revises the statute to specifically allow these type of agreements and spells out the procedures for the court to follow if the tenant fails to make payments as required by the agreement.
 
Please note that we did some research and found out that there presently is no statutory guidance or guidance in rules from Judge Kelly's office for the affidavit of non-compliance process.  This means courts could get to the process where the tenant does not make payment and have sympathy for tenant and not order the writ of possession or severely drag this out.  For instance, presently Derry court allows 10 days from landlord’s affidavit of non-compliance (tenant didn’t make payment) for tenant to respond and then it would schedule hearing.  Based on our research many courts would be like Derry which is why we need the extra detail of the later part of this bill.
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HB1196, Higher Damage Amount In Eviction Case
01/26/2016 at 01:00 PM   
Title: Title: relative to the amount of a money judgment for unpaid rent.
 
Summary: Increases the amount of unpaid rent a landlord can seek in an eviction action from $1,500 to $5,000.
 
Property Owner Position: For, If Amended.
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1196 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
This bill amends RSA 540:13 by allowing the landlord to ask for a judgment of up to $5,000 of unpaid rent in an eviction action. The bill does not have any limit or does current law, on the amount a tenant can claim against the landlord in a counterclaim in the eviction action. (The upper limit of the amount claimed in a counterclaim most likely will be the maximum amount allowed in civil suits in Circuit Courts).
 
Although the bill initially sounds like a good idea, on closer inspection it poses a very serious problem.  If a landlord were to claim damages in excess of $1,500, pursuant to RSA 502-A:14, a defendant can ask that the case be transferred to the Superior Court. If this happens, the entire action could be transferred, including the eviction case, and the delays can be substantial. 
 
Currently, and under the bill, if the tenant files a counterclaim, and the court determines that the amount owed to the tenant equals or exceeds the amount owned by the tenant to the landlord, the judgment in the possessory action will be awarded to the tenant.  The landlord could also be ordered to pay money to the defendant, and still have the defendant in his or her building.
 
A general recommendation for landlords, from attorneys specializing in landlord tenant law, is not to seek a judgment for unpaid rent in an eviction action to avoid the above.  Commonly called “don’t check the box” (on the landlord and tenant writ).  This is because if the landlord does not ask for a monetary judgment, the tenant cannot file a counterclaim.
 
We need to seek an amendment to the bill before we can support it. The bill has to allow the possessory action to stay in the Circuit Court and be heard as if there is no claim for unpaid rent or a counterclaim. 
 
Otherwise, we feel this change to the law could be somewhat of a trap to unwary landlords.
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SB395, Landlord Required To Install AC Units
01/28/2016 at 09:00 AM   
Title: Title: relative to minimum housing standards for tenants with health or respiratory issues.
 
Summary: A bill to require, as a minimum housing standard, that landlords install and maintain air conditioning units for tenants with respiratory or other health related issues requiring air conditioning.
 
Property Owner Position: Against
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: SB395 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
Short version:
This is an interesting story.  At the initial House hearing it was revealed that the bill revolves around one incidence in the town of Tilton, NH where senior citizens are in great medical need of air conditioning and the management company may be trapped by HUD regulations & fire codes from allowing charities to donate money for handling the situation.
For instance, the town and different charities and donating time, supplies and money to solve the issue but we hear that by HUD regulations money donated to the seniors puts them above an income guideline.
 
This is an extremely localized problem related to one property in one town in NH.
 
Essentially the sponsors are attempting to solve their unique Tilton one property problem by forcing the bill onto every landlord in NH.  It would be akin to killing an ant with a bazooka.
 
There is sympathy for the seniors in this situation so we need everyone to contact legislators to stop this bill.
 
More detail:
This bill would require that all residential landlords have properly working air conditioning units in apartments with tenants who have health issues requiring air conditioning.  Further, the tenant can request that the unit stay in the apartment, even during the winter and when the landlord pays heat.
 
First, the bill if it became law, could be overly burdensome to many of us.  We would have to buy air conditioners for everyone who claims such a health issue.  It is unclear what type of machine would suffice. Would a standard window unit work without special filters?  Do we have to install central air conditioning in each unit?  Do we have to air condition every room in an apartment?  How do we keep the tenant from stealing the air conditioners when they move out?
 
Second the bill is poorly drafted and not thought out.  How is it determined who needs an air conditioner?  What about the person with allergies who wants us to pay for the machine so he does not have to?  This bill is ripe for abuse.  The questions above also show the ambiguity in the bill.
What about municipal housing authorities running public housing.  Will they have to install air conditioners?  Who pays for it?
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SB342, Business Profits Tax Changes
02/02/2016 at 10:00 AM    SH Room 103
Title: Title: making certain changes to business profits tax provisions affecting a business organization when owners sell or exchange ownership interests in the business.
 
Summary: This bill makes certain changes to business profits tax provisions affecting a business organization when owners sell or exchange ownership interests in the business.
 
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: SB342 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
This is another bill that should be review by someone with knowledge of the business profits tax. Not sure we have the knowledge to take a position on the bill.  If you learn more please let us know.
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HB1282, Adopt 2015 "Uniform" Codes
02/02/2016 at 10:15 AM    LOB Room 306
Title: Title: relative to the state building code.
 
Summary: Update NH Building code by changing the date of publication of the various building codes from 2009 to 2015.
 
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1282 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
This bill simply incorporates into state law the latest additions of The International Building Code, The International Plumbing Code, The International Mechanical Code, The International Energy Conservation Code, and the International Residential Code. Without reading each code, and seeing the differences, it is impossible to determine how this will affect us.
 
This is another step in a movement that seems nation wide to move to "Uniform" codes for all states and even across multiple countries.  A concern here is that somewhere committees of people that have "special" interests are adopting codes that states blindly adhere to and we have no representation or understanding of their affects on our business.
 
If you learn more please let us know.
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SB446, Building Code Requirements
02/03/2016 at 09:45 AM    LOB Room 101
Title: Title: relative to requirements of the state building code.
 
Summary: This bill provides that any rule adopted by the state building code review board related to applications for permits under the International Residential Code shall require only such data as is reasonably required for the building inspector to act on the application.
 
Property Owner Position: For, Limited Impact
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: SB446 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
We're basically just letting you know this bill is here incase you think it may impact you. Without any analysis it sounds like a good idead.  If you learn more please let us know.
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HB1276, Property Tax Abatements
02/03/2016 at 10:00 AM    LOB Room 208
Title: Title: relative to a taxpayer's application for a property tax abatement.
 
Summary: A bill that would allow taxpayers to raise constitutional issues in tax abatement cases.
 
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1276 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
The bill is a short simple bill that would require municipalities to inform taxpayers that they can raise constitutional issues in abatement procedures.  It would also allow constitutional issues to be heard at abatement hearings. 
If the bill was enacted, we expect that abatement procedures could take longer and end up costing all taxpayers more money to pay staff and whoever hears the cases.  We are also not sure what will be raised as a constitutional issue.
 
Not sure we have the knowledge to take a position on the bill.  If you learn more please let us know.
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HB1618, License For Debt Adjustment Services
02/03/2016 at 10:00 AM    LOB Room 302
Title: Title: relative to debt adjustment services.
 
Summary: A bill requiring Debt Adjustment Services be licensed.
 
Property Owner Position: You Decide
 
 
Email to Committee: 
Subject: HB1618 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Notes:
This bill would repeal the existing statute on debt adjustment services, and if enacted would replace the old statute with a new statute. Basically, the banking department, under the new bill, will be licensing and regulating debt adjusting services to protect consumers. 
 
Talking Points:
 
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HB636, Forfeiture Of Property
02/03/2016 at 11:00 AM    LOB Room 212
Title: Title: relative to forfeiture of property.
 
Summary: This bill would revise the New Hampshire forfeiture laws – the laws that allows the state to take property that is contraband, property obtained due to a commission of a crime, and instrumentalities a person used in the commission of the crime.
 
Property Owner Position: For
 
 
Email to Committee: 
To: 0
Subject: HB636 
 
Analysis Stated in Bill: 
 
Talking Points:
The state will have the right to seize property that it believes was used in the commission of a crime.
 
Prosecutors only have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property is related to the crime, therefore subject to forfeiture.
 
Law enforcement has a profit motive to pursue forfeitures.
 
Once property is taken, the burden lies on the innocent owner to defend against the forfeiture.
The bill gives an innocent owner a defense.  Therefore, we support the bill.
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