DO NEW HAMPSHIRE condominium owners have the same rights as other homeowners? The answer is “NO.” Many condo owners in NH are upset over the change in the state condominium law that took place Aug. 1, 2016.

This change requires the number of votes to override an association budget from a majority to a super majority (66%) of all owners (present or not). The result made it just about impossible to override a condominium budget. This change also gives the power to add anything to a budget, i.e., special assessments, and it will automatically pass with little to no chance of overriding it.

In New Hampshire nothing automatically passes in state government. Why would lawmakers require a private organization to disregard the voice of the (majority) of its owners? This change gave control over the budget to a super minority (34%) that can dictate how their money is spent; and there is little to nothing the other owners can do. It is easier to pass a constitutional amendment or override a veto of the governor (because the votes are for members present, not all members).

It is hard to understand why the state would get involved in a private matter such as how people spend their own money in an association. It did here, and in the process took the condo owners’ right to vote away. If you own a condo in New Hampshire this change affects you.

This change affected two major groups: the elderly on fixed income, and the first-time home buyers; (young people) who are just starting out. We hear time and time again the need to keep young people in the state, yet we put a roadblock like this in place. I have approached other members of the House. I get the response “I wouldn’t buy a condo in New Hampshire.”

That response is just unacceptable. It is estimated that one in seven New Hampshire homes are condominiums. The owners pay property tax just like the rest of the home owners, and many condominium owners are over 55 and have downsized. The over 55 group has little to no impact on our schools. We want over 55 condos. We do not want to discourage the purchase of a condo because the association fees are through the roof. Another problem is that if and when the housing market drops, condos are always the first hit and people will just walk away because they can’t sell their unit with the condo assessments increasing. This will affect the real estate, banks foreclosures, and the market value of all condos in the state .

We hear many times about equal rights. This issue comes down to whose voice should be heard: the voice of the tax payer/owner, or the voice of the management company making money at the expense of our elderly and young people .

I have introduced a bill (HB 160) that attempts to restore condominium (owners rights) by changing the requirement to a majority of the owners if 50% or more are present or proxy a (true majority).

There will be a public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 16, in Room 302 of the Legislative Office Building behind the State House in Concord.

I would encourage anyone who owns a condo or is thinking of purchasing one to write the House Commerce Committee about how you feel about losing your right to vote on how you spend your own money.

Jim Webb is a state representative from Derry. A Republican, he is on the Science Technology & Energy Committee.