On and after January 1, 2023, New Hampshire shall significantly deregulate the licensure and rate-regulation of for-hire carriage of household goods by eliminating certain public utility requirements and bolstering consumer protection.
What follows is a summarization of some of the more significant statutory changes. It is not intended to be a complete review of the impact of all changes the new law brings to for-hire household goods transportation within New Hampshire. It is expected that the Road Toll Bureau, a division within the NH Department of Safety, will be promulgating final rules addressing certain details of applications for issuance of household goods carrier certificates, forms, annual reporting requirements and other regulations pertaining to household goods carriers. As of this writing, such regulations have not been published, but are expected sometime in 2023.
Regardless of the forthcoming new regulatory scheme, movers in NH need to take heed of and comply with new statute; including the new consumer protections.
Applicants for New HHG Authority
A written application will continue to be required in order to obtain a permit or certificate of household goods authority as either a contract or common carrier. Previously, applicants for HHG Common Carrier authority were required to demonstrate at a public hearing and to the Bureau’s satisfaction, that it is fit, willing and able to conduct operations and the authority sought and further, the proposed service “is or will be required by the present or future public convenience and necessity.” For HHG Contract Carrier authority; also that it is fit, willing and able to properly perform the service and “will be consistent with the public interest.”
In 2023 and after, the applicant (whether Common or Contract) will only be required to represent it is “willing and able” to properly perform the service.
This writer has been verbally informed by the regulator that publication of notice of hearing and a public hearing on an application for authority will no longer be required. However, because publication and hearing procedures under the old law are pursuant to Bureau regulation, until such regulations are repealed and/or changed, the industry will have to wait and see what the Bureau will require, if anything relative to publication and hearing on an application for authority.
New Rights and Responsibilities of Household Goods Carriers
Previously, carriers were required to file their rates and charges in tariffs with the Bureau and to wait 30 days until after filing to take effect.
In 2023, carriers will no longer be required to file their rates and charges with the Bureau. This writer has been verbally informed by the regulator that tariffs will no longer be required to be filed with the Bureau. Because the tariff filing requirement under the old law is pursuant to Bureau regulation, until that regulation is repealed and/or changed, the industry will have to wait and see what the Bureau does relative to the issue of requiring the filing of tariffs.
Consumer Protections – Estimates/Additional Services/Exceeding Estimates
The law creates new statutory consumer protections regarding estimates, additional services and what happens when the estimate is exceeded.
Written Estimates of Cost:
Upon the request of any customer, a carrier must provide a written estimate of cost to the customer in advance of performing any service, which shall include:
- An itemization of the service to be performed;
- An estimated completion date;
- A statement that the carrier shall notify the customer of the estimated cost of any additional services of an unrelated and different nature from the work originally itemized in the written estimate and shall receive the customer’s written or oral permission to proceed before performing the work; and
- A statement that the carrier shall not charge the customer any amount which exceeds the written estimate by 10 percent without the customer’s written consent.
If additional service of an unrelated and different nature from the work originally itemized in the written estimate becomes necessary, a carrier must notify the customer of the estimated cost of such additional service and receive his or her written or oral permission to proceed before performing the work.
Exceeding the Estimate:
Upon the completion of any service for which an estimate has been given, a carrier must not charge the customer any amount which exceeds the estimate by 10 percent without the customer’s written consent.
Bureau Duties and Enforcement
The law creates new statutory powers for the Bureau to determine insurance limits, conduct hearings on complaints, including revocations/suspensions and any other requirements deemed necessary to regulate household goods carriers and adds NH State Police Troopers to the team of vehicle inspectors authorized to examine the vehicle subject to a certificate or permit.
It is clear that New Hampshire is taking an aggressive stand by repealing R.S.A. 375-A – a law that has been in place since the 1960s. The new law (R.S.A. 359-T) strengthens consumer protections and promotes free enterprise and the market economy by eliminating barriers to entry and obsolete licensure restrictions for household goods transportation by for-hire carriers. With the exception of the new consumer protection changes, the industry will have to wait to see the finer points of the Bureau’s requirements, restrictions and conditions the Bureau rules impose on applicants and movers in New Hampshire, until after its new regulations are finalized.
Dated: Sudbury, MA
Dec. 11, 2022
Andresen & Borovick, LLP
323 Boston Post Road
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776
Tel: (978) 443-6868
The foregoing is designed to provide general information based on a summary of legal principles for clients and friends of the firm. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice, or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Companies and individuals should consult with legal counsel before taking any action based on these principles to ensure their applicability in a given situation. The information presented here and on our website should not be construed to be legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Copyright © 2022 Andresen & Borovick, LLP. All rights reserved.
 See new Chapter 359T – Carriage of Household Goods for Hire by Motor Vehicle (R.S.A. 359-T:1 – T:19). New Hampshire House Bill 207-FN – An Act Repealing the Regulation of Household Goods Carriers.