State’s STR Bill Heads to Hearing | Local News

CONCORD – A bill banning cities from banning short-term rentals will be heard in Concord next week, and the lead sponsor says thanks to The Sun, an amendment will be proposed to make the bill “more acceptable” for cities like Conway.

State Sen. Harold French (R-Canterbury) is proposing a bill called SB 249 to prohibit cities from banning or tightly regulating short-term rentals, though he says it gives cities more powers than they had before.

He said the bill would not apply to municipalities that already have STR regulations on the books. But if passed, it will prevent municipalities from issuing new ordinances to regulate STRs. The law, if signed, will come into force on July 1.

The bill will be heard by the French-chaired Senate Commerce Committee on Jan. 25 at 9:30 a.m. at the State House. Other committee members are Vice-Chairman William Gannon (R-Sandown), Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) and Kevin Cavanaugh (D-Manchester). The New Hampshire Senate, including the committee, is streaming live on Youtube.

In a mid-December interview, French said the bill would prevent cities from restricting the use of private property as short-term rentals. In a follow-up email, he clarified that the regulations would be part of the bill.

The Sun spoke to French again on Monday, and he said he would propose an amendment to make the bill “more palatable to cities and towns.” The amendment will include parking, noise and occupancy, i.e. how many people can be in a house. Noise and parking are already regulated in existing laws, but the amendment will make the law clearer in terms of short-term rentals.

“We didn’t want to ban them or allow cities or towns to ban them directly, obviously we’re going to allow them to be regulated,” French said. “I think it (an amended bill) will settle it nicely for everyone involved.”

Regarding occupancy, French said the amendment would avoid issues such as “30 people crammed into a two-bedroom apartment.”

The language of the amendment was not available on Tuesday, and French said he would share it with the committee before the language of the amendment is made public.

“It was only because of your personal perseverance that I even decided to make concessions,” French told a reporter.

Last month, The Sun informed French of the problems the city of Conway and the greater Mount Washington Valley have been having with STRs. French and the reporter joked about how the town of Conway, which has strong anti-STR elements, could become a more welcoming place for him because of the proposed amendment.

“I can now go on vacation and eat up there in the good restaurants,” he laughs.

As it now reads, the bill says: “Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no legislature of any city, town, or country in which there are unincorporated towns or unorganized premises, may not prohibit the use of a building or structure as a vacation rental or short-term rental or regulate the use of such structure or building as a vacation or short-term rental depending on the classification, use or occupancy of the structure or building. »

However, after learning of the situation in Conway, which went to court to defend the right to regulate STRs, French, who has served in the state Senate since 2017, indicated his willingness to change his legislation.

Meanwhile, Madison selectors sent letters telling STR landlords in the residential Eidelweiss neighborhood to stop renting and saying they would send such letters to landlords in other Madison locations.

French provided The Sun with a chart from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors that explains what the bill will do. The NHAR says the bill creates “specific authority” for cities to register STRs and the ability to charge fees to cover the cost of registrations. It also allows cities to inspect single-family and two-family homes and the authority over messy homes.

Registration would not be dependent on an inspection unless there is a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the property is in breach of the Housing Standards Act. A municipality can also request an “administrative inspection warrant” in the event of refusal of entry.

In addition to attending the hearing in person, people can also email committee members through the General Court’s website by going to tinyurl.com/2p955wra.

“If they’re totally negative, I don’t read them,” French said of voter emails. “If they’re really wise, they’ll start by saying something nice and then launch into negative comments.”

In December, Conway Selectman Carl Thibodeau sent Bradley, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, a brief email saying selectmen could not support SB 294 because city voters chose to ban them. . He also said the bill didn’t go far enough on life safety. He also sent Bradley a copy of the bylaws the elected officials would have passed had the city vote gone the other way.

The New Hampshire Municipal Association is against SB 249. The NHMA is asking people to call their state senators, especially if they sit on the commerce committee, to tell them to vote to kill the bill. It indicates that STRs contribute to the lack of long-term affordable housing and party houses as problems, especially in member cities that are tourist destinations.

The Sun interviewed NHMA executive director Margaret Byrnes about SB 249 in late December. She said NHMA has a team that testifies on the bills. The NHMA also encourages members to testify as well.

She said that because this bill creates a statewide zoning mandate (STRs cannot be banned) and takes away local control, opposing it is a high priority for NHMA.

“Very simply, short-term rentals are subject to zoning regulations, just like any other type of land use,” Byrnes said. “And our position is that they should continue to be subject to zoning regulations, and this bill would remove that authority altogether.”

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