Legislature Considers Bills that Could Impact Real Estate

By Robin Chesnut-Tangerman and Sean Dillon

Legislative action affecting the real estate industry is currently concentrated on two bills. Each has passed out of the chamber where it began and gone to the other body, or halfway through. There are other relevant bills such as one creating a registry of contractors, managed by the Office of Professional Regulation, as realtors are. At this point it is only a registry with no licensing required. One of the driving forces behind this concept is to be able to provide consistent information to contractors about building standards, energy efficiency, lead and asbestos, etc.

The House is currently taking testimony on S.79 which, among other things, would create a rental registry in Vermont. Under this bill the Department of Fire and Safety would add additional inspectors and take on the task of health inspections as well as fire inspections. Enforcement would be complaint driven so inspectors would not be dropping by unexpectedly.  The bill also creates the Vermont Rental Housing Investment Program to assist with “the rehabilitation and weatherization of eligible rental housing units.”

The Senate is now taking testimony on H.437, the bill that creates a surcharge on the property transfer tax on sales over $1 million. Only the portion over $1 million would be subject to an additional 0.5% tax.  The money raised by this surcharge would not go to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board but would a) subsidize a sales tax exemption for manufacturing machinery and equipment, b) increase funding for the affordable housing tax credit for manufactured homes, and c) go into the General Fund for general state expenses.

We do not expect any action this year on Act 250 reform or revisions.