Monday, May 20, 2013

Legislative Update - Still waiting for Bedbug and Abandonment Bill Activity

This Legislative Update was provided by Nick Norman, RPOA Director of Legislative Affairs

Legislative activity for us is now really slowing down.


HB472, Definition Of Tenancy In Rooming Houses, Voted 5-0
Ought to Pass with Amendment, by the Senate Committee.

HB413, Abandonment.
If you have not done so already please contact the your Senator and ask them to vote in favor of the bill as amended.
HB482, The Bedbug Bill, is still making its way to the governor.
If you have not done so yet, please contact the governor’s office & ask her to vote in favor of the bill.Governor's office is 271-2121 or you can e-mail the governor by going to the following website:

To get much more info on HB413 & HB482:
See Summaries & Full Detail for each category further below which includes property owner position, committee contact info, talking points, and more.
(to jump right to bill detail, use Control-F, Find).

This week:None scheduled so far

Next week:None scheduled so far

Decisions/Updated Status:See Bills Updated Status summary below.

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
RPOA Director of Legislative Affairs
To find both your Representative & Senator goto

This can also be found by going to
& clicking “Find Your Representatives”
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.  Its not terribly hard to get but not straight ahead either.
HB472, Definition Of Tenancy In Rooming Houses
Property Owner Position: LimitedImpact; You Decide
General Status: In the SENATE
House Status: PASSED / ADOPTED
Senate Status: HB 472,
relative to residential units in rooming houses.
Ought to Pass with Amendment, Vote 5-0.
Senator Hosmer for the committee.
Full details on all bills above:HB413, Abandonment
03/19/2013 at 09:15 AM    SH 100
Title: (New Title) relative to property abandoned by tenants.

Summary: This bill clarifies conditions that can be used to determine the tenant has abandoned the property. Making abandonment of the premise a defense to an RSA 540-A action against the landlord.

Property Owner Position: For

Link to Committee Info:

Email to Committee:
Subject: HB413

Link to Bill Text:
Analysis Stated in Bill: This bill makes relinquishment or abandonment of the premises a defense for landlords in an
action under RSA 540-A.

Talking Points:
Under current law, there is no definition of abandonment. As a result, every time a tenant moves out, a landlord is always subject to a 540-A action (fining landlord) unless the tenant gives notice in writing that the tenant is fully moved out and returns possession to the landlord or the landlord goes through the eviction procedure and has the sheriff serve the writ of possession.
The first part of the bill makes it clear that if all tenants of an apartment sign a document that they relinquish possession that such action is a defense for a 540-A action.
The second part lists various factors that show a tenant has abandoned the leased premises. If a landlord can prove two of these factors, that will be a defense to a 540-A action.  These factors are subject to negotiation as we go through the legislative process.
The bill is advantageous to Landlords, Tenant and the Courts.  With a clarified standard for abandonment, Landlords will not have to spend the money or time on filing eviction actions, and the tenant will not have an unnecessary eviction on his or her record. This will also reduce the number of cases filed in the badly overburdened courts.
HB482, The Bedbug Bill
04/02/2013 at 10:15 AM    LOB 103
Title: regarding infestation of bed bugs in rental housing.

Summary: This is a good bill because it puts some of the burden of infestation back to the tenant.  It allows landlords to evict based on non-payment if the tenant does not pay for extermination if it is determined that the tenant brought them in.

Property Owner Position: For

Link to Committee Info:

Email to Committee:
Subject: HB482

Link to Bill Text:
Analysis Stated in Bill: This bill addresses landlord, tenant, and municipality responsibility for bed bug infestations.

Talking Points:
This is one of the most complicated bills that will have a very direct impact on both landlords and tenants.
The first paragraph of the bill, the declaration of purpose, if the bill passes, is a declaration by the legislature that reasonable measures need to be taken to promote prompt and effective mediation of bedbug infestation. This declaration can open the door to lawsuits for failure to take such actions. It is a statement to everyone not to ignore the problem.
The second and third paragraph of the bill incorporates into the state housing code that not taking measures to remediate a bedbug infestation will be a violation of the minimum standards for housing in the state.  Communities can enact their own more stringent codes. This section gives building inspectors the power to deal with bedbug infestations the same powers they have to deal with other infestations.
The fourth paragraph, by amending RSA 540-A, WILL ALLOW LANDLORDS TO ENTER APARTMENTS WITHOUT TENANT CONSENT OR NOTICE to formulate a plan or engage in emergency remediation of rodents or insects, including bedbugs, so long as the entry took place within 72 hours of the landlord first receiving notice of the infestation. This paragraph is a major benefit to landlords to start dealing with the problem promptly. If it takes longer than the 72 hours, the current law applies, the landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice under the circumstances and a tenant is barred from prohibiting the landlord from entering.
The fifth paragraph of the bill makes it a violation of RSA 540-A for a landlord willfully, that means the landlord intended, not to investigate a complaint within 7 days and to take reasonable measures to remediate an infestation.
The fifth paragraph also makes it a violation of RSA 540-A for:
the tenant to refuse the landlord access to his or her apartment to make emergency repairs;
the tenant to refuse the landlord to evaluate if bedbugs are present if the landlord received a complaint about an adjacent unit as long as the landlord gave 48 hours notice;
the tenant to willfully fail to comply with written instructions from the landlord or pest control operator to remediate so long as the instructions were given to an adult, someone 18 years or older, and the tenant was given a reasonable opportunity to comply of not less than 72 hours.

This section of the bill makes it clear that a landlord may only enter without the consent of the tenant to make emergency repairs or with a court order.
Paragraph 6 defines infestation of bedbugs as any bedbugs in rented residential property, and remediation as any treatment that substantially reduces the presence of bedbugs for 60 days.  NOTE landlords are not required to use a licensed exterminator nor totally eradicate the insects, as this can be very difficult and expensive. These definitions will be in RSA 540 and not in RSA 540-A, although I expect the courts will use these definitions when reading RSA 540-A
Paragraph 6 also makes the landlord responsible for the cost of remediation in the first instance. The landlord can bill the tenant for the cost if the landlord believes the tenant is responsible for the infestation. If the tenant does not pay the landlord within 30 days or enter into an agreement to repay the landlord, such becomes a ground for eviction for non-payment of rent (A seven day notice and a demand for rent is required)
If the landlord tries to evict the tenant or seek damages for the infestation, the landlord bears the burden of proof (by the preponderance of evidence) that the tenant was responsible for infestation and the landlord offered the tenant the opportunity to enter into a payment plan.
However, the bill gives the landlord a rebuttable presumption that if there were no reports of bedbugs in the tenants unit or directly adjacent units or units directly above or below within 6 months then the tenant was responsible for the infestation. Paragraph 6 then goes on to give courts guidance to be used in determining if the tenant was responsible for the infestation or the bedbugs came from another unit or were in the unit at the time the tenant took possession of the apartment or single family house.
Paragraph 7 of the bill adds a new ground for eviction, but on a 30 days notice.  That ground is willful failure of the tenant to prepare a unit for remediation after the tenant  was given reasonable notice. Keep in mind that although this paragraph requires a 30 days notice, the landlord can seek a court order as noted above pursuant to RSA 540-A. Those orders can be obtained fairly quickly.
Paragraph 7 also makes it clear that the $1,000 fine for the initial violation and the $1,000 per day fine for a violation after a court order set forth in RSA 540-A is issued does not apply when dealing with infestations.
We support this bill. It is a balance between the interests of society, the landlords and the tenants. As landlords we now have a clearly defined responsibility to remediate the bedbugs, but we have the ability to seek financial reimbursement from a tenant who brought the problem into our building.  We also gain the ablity to have the courts order the irresponsible tenants to join in the remediation effort or face contempt and/or eviction. The tenants will have means to force the landlords who do not maintain their buildings, the irresponsible landlord, to remediate.

We also support this bill because I fear that someone will propose, if this does not pass, a bill that would not be as balanced, and the landlord would be responsible not only for remediation but all the costs of such.  Further, such a bill may not include as a ground for eviction failure of a tenant to cooperate in the remediation effort. WE COULD DO A LOT WORSE AND LET'S NOT TAKE THAT RISK.
HB655, Deferred Taxes For The Elderly Or Disabled
04/17/2013 at 09:30 AM    LOB 102
Title: relative to the collection of the amount of the property tax deferral for the elderly or disabled upon sale of the property.

Summary: RSA 72:38-a allows for deferral of property taxes for elderly and the disabled. The current law does address the payment of the taxes upon the death of the elderly or disabled person. (Elderly is someone 65 or older, a disabled person is someone receiving Social Security Disability Income Benefits).  The taxing authorities can grant the deferment if the taxes cause, in their opinion undue hardship or the possible loss of the property.  Current law does not address what happens if the property is sold.

Property Owner Position: You Decide

Link to Committee Info:

Email to Committee:
To:;;;;; ;
Subject: HB655

Link to Bill Text:
Analysis Stated in Bill: This bill requires that the amount of the tax deferral and accrued interest be paid to the municipality granting the deferral upon the sale of the property to a purchaser.

Talking Points:
HB 655 fills that void in RSA 72:38-a. Simply, all deferred taxes are to be paid upon sale, and the municipal lien is to be released.  The rest of the bill addresses situations when the taxes are not paid upon sale, basically stating times and procedure for a tax sale.
This bill deals with owners of limited means occupying their own housing.
HB472, Definition Of Tenancy In Rooming Houses
04/30/2013 at 02:00 PM    LOB 101
Title: relative to residential units in rooming houses.

Summary: Presently RSA 540 is excluded from tenants in a rooming house where the tenant stays fewer than 90 days.

This bill changes the exclusion by adding:
“For purposes of this subparagraph, if the owner of the facility directs the occupant to move from one room to another in the same rooming or boarding house, the 90-day period for computing consecutive days of occupancy shall not be broken.”

Property Owner Position: LimitedImpact; You Decide

Link to Committee Info:

Email to Committee:
Subject: HB472

Link to Bill Text:
Analysis Stated in Bill: This bill clarifies that the exclusion of rooming houses from the definition of tenancy cannot be extended by directing the occupant to move from one room to another within the 90-day exemption period.

Talking Points:
Note that since it is not directly addressed in the bill, it can be argued, that if the guest requests a room change, then the 90 days is broken, since, if the bill passes, the legislature had the opportunity to address this and did not.
If the guest stays 90 days or more, RSA 540 would apply, and the guest would have to be evicted, because at that point the guest now becomes a tenant. Within less than 90 days the owner should have some knowledge if the guest is a problem, and should ask the guest to leave to avoid invoking RSA 540 rights.

A limited number of our members suffer a large impact from this bill.  If it affects you be active about it.

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