Bill Text - SB354 (2010)

Authorizing liens for unpaid building code violations and requiring landlord agents for restricted rental property.


Revision: May 17, 2010, midnight

SB 354-FN – VERSION ADOPTED BY BOTH BODIES

03/24/10 1164s

2010 SESSION

10-2858

05/04

SENATE BILL 354-FN

AN ACT authorizing liens for unpaid building code violations and requiring landlord agents for restricted rental property.

SPONSORS: Sen. DeVries, Dist 18; Rep. Long, Hills 10; Rep. Komi, Hills 12

COMMITTEE: Public and Municipal Affairs

AMENDED ANALYSIS

This bill provides that a lien may be filed against rental property for unpaid building code violations. The bill also requires owners of restricted rental property to designate an agent for service of process.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

03/24/10 1164s

10-2858

05/04

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten

AN ACT authorizing liens for unpaid building code violations and requiring landlord agents for restricted rental property.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Section; Housing Standards. Amend RSA 48-A by inserting after section 6 the following new section:

48-A:6-a Lien for Unpaid Fines.

I. Whenever a court of competent jurisdiction enters a fine against a property owner for violation of a housing code enacted pursuant to this chapter or for violation of the minimum standards set forth in RSA 48-A:14, the amount of said fine shall be a lien against the real property, and such lien, including as part thereof costs and necessary attorneys fees may be foreclosed upon order of the superior court pursuant to a petition for that purpose filed in said court. Such lien may be filed after 45 days following the entry of the fine.

II. Notice of said lien shall be filed with the register of deeds for the county in which the real estate is situated, and shall be recorded by the registrar.

III. Such lien shall be subordinate to any mortgage, tax lien, or encumberance of record filed prior to the municipality’s lien.

IV. If the lien authorized by paragraph I is not satisfied within 120 days of the recording of the judgment in the registry of deeds in which the property is located, it may be foreclosed upon in accordance with the process in RSA 48-A:6.

2 New Section; Actions Against Tenants; Landlord Agent. Amend RSA 540 by inserting after section 1-a the following new section:

540:1-b Landlord’s Agent Required.

I. An owner of restricted property, as defined in RSA 540:1-a, II, who resides within the state of New Hampshire, shall, within 30 days of becoming the owner or within 30 days of the effective date of this section, whichever occurs later, file a statement with the town or city clerk of the municipality in which the property is located that provides the name, address, and telephone number of a person within the state who is authorized to accept service of process for any legal proceeding brought against the owner relating to the restricted property. Such person authorized to accept service may be the owner of the premises.

II. An owner of restricted property who resides outside the state of New Hampshire shall, within 30 days of becoming the owner or within 30 days of the effective date of this section, whichever occurs later, file a statement with the town or city clerk of the municipality in which the property is located that provides the name, address, and telephone number of a person within the state who is authorized to accept service of process for any legal proceeding brought against the owner relating to the restricted property.

III. In any legal proceeding in which the property owner resides out of state and said owner fails to: (a) comply with paragraph II, and (b) appear in said proceeding, service of process pursuant to RSA 510:4 shall create a rebuttable presumption that such service was lawful and adequate. As used in this section the term “legal proceeding” includes, but is not limited to, any action at law or in equity or for the enforcement of any provision of RSA 48-A:14, or any housing code adopted by a municipality pursuant to RSA 48-A, or for the enforcement of any municipal health code, building code, or fire or life safety code. A municipality may establish a reasonable filing fee to cover the cost to the town or city clerk of maintaining a record of the filings required by this section.

IV. Any owner of restricted property who violates paragraph I or II of this section shall be subject to a $1,000 civil penalty.

3 New Subparagraph; Actions Against Tenants; Exemption from Tenancy. Amend RSA 540:1-a, IV by inserting after subparagraph (e) the following new subparagraph:

(f) Vacation or recreational rental units under RSA 540-C.

4 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2011.

LBAO

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01/22/10

SB 354-FN - FISCAL NOTE

AN ACT authorizing liens for unpaid building code violations and requiring landlord agents for restricted rental property.

FISCAL IMPACT:

      The Judicial Branch, the New Hampshire Association of Counties, and the New Hampshire Municipal Association state this bill may increase county and local revenue and state expenditures by indeterminable amounts in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. There is no fiscal impact on state revenue or on county and local expenditures.

METHODOLOGY:

    The Judicial Branch states the proposed bill would add RSA 48-A:6-a allowing for a lien for unpaid fines for violations of a housing code and RSA 540:1-b, requiring a landlord of restricted property to designate an agent for the tenant to contact and, if necessary, for service of process. The Branch states three points of potential fiscal impact to the Branch are the following provisions of the proposed bill: (1) proposed RSA 48-A:6-a, I and V, allowing a petition in the superior court to foreclose upon and sell property subject to a lien established by RSA 48-A:6-a; (2) proposed RSA 48-A:6-a, IV requiring the court assessing the fine for a housing code violation to notify that a lien may be recorded; and (3) proposed RSA 540:1-b, IV, providing that a landlord violating RSA 540:1-b, I or II would be subject to the remedies set forth in RSA 358-A:10, I. The Branch estimates petitions brought in the superior court pursuant to proposed 48-A:6-a, I and V to foreclose upon and sell property subject to a lien would likely be considered routine equity cases and actions under RSA 358-A:10 include the potential for injunctions, up to treble damages, and attorney's fees and such actions would be considered complex equity cases. The Branch has no information on which to estimate how many such actions may arise as a result of the proposed bill. The Branch states the average cost in superior court of routine equity cases is $184.21 and complex equity cases is $506.50 in fiscal year 2010 and beyond. The Branch estimates the notice required by proposed 48-A:6-a, IV should not add significant costs to the Branch. The Branch states the proposed bill, taken as a whole, has the potential to result in a cost increase greater than $10,000.

    The New Hampshire Association of Counties states this bill provides that a lien shall be filed with the county register of deeds for unpaid municipal building code violations. The Association

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    states to the extent such liens are filed and filing fees are paid, county revenues will increase, although it cannot reasonably estimate the specific increase.

      The New Hampshire Municipal Association states this bill provides a mechanism to collect municipal fines for housing code violations, so it may increase local revenue, to the extent that court-ordered fines for these violations are currently uncollected. However, the Association does not have sufficient information to provide a specific estimate of the increase.

    The Department of Justice states it may be involved in litigation regarding the equity cases established by the proposed bill; however it estimates it will be able to absorb any associated costs within its existing budget.

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