As many of you know, I serve on two committees for the NH Association of Realtors: the Legal Committee and Public Policy Committee. With the most recent legislative cycle now concluded, there were some notable changes to state law which may impact you as a home owner or landlord. In the discussion below, the acronym RSA refers to the Revised Statutes Annotated (which is the collection of state laws in NH)
Here are the highlights of some of those changes:
CHANGES TO NEW HAMPSHIRE’S LEAD PAINT LAW (Senate Bill 247 – Chapter Law 4)
The law makes some relatively significant changes, primarily to what is commonly referred to as the “Lead Paint Control Act” (RSA 130-A:1). The highlights of the new law include the following:
a) The law requires testing for blood lead levels in children at the ages of 1 and 2.
b) The law changes the levels that require notifications from the Department of Health and Human Services to property owners, relative to the levels of lead in the blood of children who live in a domicile, from 5 micrograms per deciliter to 3.5.
c) The law lowers the threshold for abatement orders for lead in the blood of children from 10 micrograms to 7.5 micrograms in 2019, and then to 5 micrograms in 2021.
d) The law creates a revolving loan fund to provide loans to property owners to make units lead-safe.
e) The law mandates new disclosures on lead in water and paint prior to the execution of any contract for the purchase and sale of any interest in real property.
[NOTE: As a result of concerns raised by NHAR and other parties, the new law only requires property owners to abate lead paint in those units where children and/or pregnant women reside, as opposed to the current requirement that all units in the building must be abated. This should lower overall costs to property owner when facing abatement expenses.]
RELATIVE TO THE STANDARDS FOR ARSENIC IN WATER (House Bill 1592 – Chapter Law 190)
The new law requires that, by 1/1/19, the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services must review the groundwater standard for arsenic to determine whether it should be adjusted, taking into consideration the extent to which the contaminant is found in New Hampshire, the ability to detect the contaminant in public water systems, the ability to remove the contaminant from drinking water, the impact on public health, and the costs and benefits to affected entities that will result from establishing the standard.
The current standard is 10 parts per billion. Any proposed change to the ambient groundwater standard for arsenic would need to be voted on by the legislature.[NOTE: New Hampshire groundwater standards, which are enforceable against municipal water supplies, tend to become the standards used by laboratories for private well water.]
LAW PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON GENDER IDENITY (House Bill 1319 – Chapter Law 176)
New Hampshire statute currently bans discrimination in obtaining housing based on any of the following: age, color, creed, familial status, marital status, national origin, physical or mental disability, race or sex. The new law adds “gender identity” to the list of protected classes.
RELATIVE TO THE EXPIRATION OF VARIANCES AND SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS (House Bill 1553 – Chapter Law 75)
The new law permits a town to alter its zoning ordinance to provide for the termination of all variances that were authorized before August 19, 2013, and that have not been exercised.
After adoption of such an amendment to the zoning ordinance, the municipal Planning Board must post notice of the termination in the town hall. The notice shall be posted for one year and shall prominently state the expiration date of the notice. The notice shall state that variances authorized before August 19, 2013, are scheduled to terminate, but that they shall be valid if exercised within two (2) years of the expiration date of the notice or as further extended by the Zoning Board of Adjustment for good cause.
The same holds true for special exceptions granted prior to August 19, 2013.
INTEREST CHARGES REDUCED FOR LATE PAYMENT OF PROPERTY TAXES AND TAX SALE PROPERTIES (House Bill 1673 – Chapter Law 282)
The new law lowers the interest rate charged on late property tax payments from 12 to 8 percent…and for delinquent property taxes for properties that have gone to tax sale from 18 to 14 percent per annum.
The bill will go into effect in April, 2019.