Tag Archives: christopher meier

Law in the time of coronavirus – Article by Chris Meier

April 3, 2020

THE CONWAY DAILY SUN, Friday, April 3, 2020

As all of the Mount Washington Valley and the world alter our lives to the temporary social distancing and quarantine rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, so, too, must we adapt as business owners, employers and employees to a new (temporary) economic and legal reality. Below is an outline of some of the changes that I felt were important for us here in the valley to consider and keep in mind.

Governor’s Stay at Home Order Effective March 27 at midnight, and through May 4, the governor has ordered all “non-essential” businesses to close, schools to remain closed and remote learning, and state beaches to close. The list of what businesses are essential can be found on nh.gov, but note that grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations will remain open, as will restaurants but only for takeout or delivery. The order also allows for residents to leave home for fresh air and exercise, as long as social distancing and “staying-local-to-your-area” protocols are observed.

Federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Stimulus Act) — This bill is enormous, and 880 pages. Here are some highlights:

   Direct Payments — Up to a certain level of income, citizens will receive cash payments up to $1,200 based upon their 2019 tax filing. These likely will issue within three weeks and will either be deposited in an account on file with the IRS or a check will be sent. The Washington Post has created an easy calculator to estimate any payment you might receive.

   Unemployment Insurance Support — Under the Act, the current N.H. maximum for unemployment benefits will increase from a weekly benefit  of $427 to $1,027, and laid-off employees are entitled to an additional 13 weeks of benefits (changed from 26 weeks to 39 weeks). The benefit is dependent on your recent income amount, but if you are laid off from your employment, you should file for unemployment as early as you can. NHES will work with you through the process, but note that there are particular days and times to file based upon the first letter of your last name. For more information, check the website: nhes.nh.gov.

    Paycheck Protection Program — For employers considering keeping staff on payroll, this is potentially the biggest benefit in the CARES Act. The PPP provides to small businesses (up to 500 employees), non-profits, sole proprietors and independent contractors a loan of up to 2.5 times your monthly payroll (up to $10 million). While a loan, the PPP allows that the loans WILL BE FORGIVEN in the amount used for up of eight weeks of payroll, mortgage interest, rent and/or utility payments. There are reductions to the forgiveness amount if you lay off some workers or reduce any employee’s pay by more than 25 percent’ however, given the inclusiveness of the forgiveness, it is likely most loans will receive substantial forgiveness. The PPP will be run through the current SBA 7(a) loan program, so generally any bank or law firm that handles SBA loans (we have some in our community) can start you on this process once the SBA finishes the regulations to administer the program (they have until April 11). I recommend any and every business in this valley investigate whether this program can be of assistance keeping your employees on the books, as it is a substantial benefit that you likely do not have to pay back.

Families First Act
— There are three substantial parts of Families First: Emergency Sick Leave — This provision says that employers are required to provide 80 hours of emergency sick leave (related to coronavirus) in addition to existing sick leave or paid time off. This emergency leave goes away on Dec. 31 (or if an employee is laid off or terminated). Emergency Family Leave — The Leave provision provides for up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for employees whose child care (or school) is unavailable due to coronavirus restrictions. The first 10 days can be unpaid; however, for the remainder, an employee must receive a benefit t of two-thirds their normal rate of pay (up to $200 per day or $10,000 total).

Payroll Tax Credit
— There will be an employer credit against payroll taxes for emergency sick leave or emergency family leave used by its employees.

Temporary prohibition of foreclosure
and eviction — All eviction and foreclosure actions in the state are suspended until further notice. Note that this order does not waive or forgive any rent or mortgage (or other) payment; it only delays any foreclosure or eviction proceeding.

Court proceedings
— Generally, courts are open only on a restricted basis, and closed to the public. Emergency matters are still being heard, and anyone with an emergency can contact the Trial Court Info Center at (888) 212-1234. A New Hampshire lawyer can also help you navigate how to obtain legal relief during this time. 

Note that this is a brief summary of the new law, and everyone should investigate further how these changes apply to them individually, with their own lawyer, accountant, bank, and HR advisor. I look forward to seeing you all in the restaurants, in the stores, and on the trails, rivers, and mountains of the MWV when all this is over, but until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay informed — we will get through this together. 

Chris Meier is an attorney specializing in business affairs at Cooper Cargill Chant, a North Conway law firm.

Cooper Cargill Chant Continues Annual Support to Mountain Top Music Programs

June 14, 2018

Pictured (Left to Right): Attorney Christopher Meier and Jeanne Mason.

Cooper Cargill Chant Attorney Christopher Meier Admitted to Maine Bar

July 21, 2017

Cooper Cargill Chant Attorney Christopher T. Meier was sworn into the Maine State Bar on July 21, 2017. Pictured is the admission ceremony at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta, Maine.

Cooper Cargill Chant Attorney Chris Meier Accepts Special Recognition for the MWV Trails Association From Governor and Executive Council

September 14, 2016

Photo Caption: Chris Meier (third from right) Accepts Special Recognition for the MWV Trails Association From Governor Maggie Hassan (center) and Executive Council.

NORTH CONWAY, NH –  Volunteerism and public service is part of the culture at Cooper Cargill Chant, northern New Hampshire’s largest law firm. This fact was exemplified on September 7, 2016, when Attorney and Partner Chris Meier received special recognition on behalf of the non-profit Mount Washington Valley Trails Association, on whose board Meier serves as President. Meier and the MWVTA received a special proclamation from Governor Maggie Hassan and Executive Council members at their North Country meeting last week at the North Conway Community Center in North Conway, NH.

The MWV Trails Association and its Rec Path Committee are working to build and maintain multi-use recreation paths within the Mount Washington Valley area that provide residents and visitors alternative community access and opportunities for safe and family-oriented recreation and transportation. It is their mission to build pathways in the community for families, elders and kids to walk, run, bike, rollerblade, and ski in a safe and pleasant environment.
 
The MWVTA is just one of the non-profit organizations supported by Meier and by Cooper Cargill Chant. Chris also serves on the board of the MWV Chamber of Commerce and a past board member of many other organizations including the New Hampshire Bar Association, the White Mountain Community Health Center and the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust.   Collectively, Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys give their time to dozens of local organizations, including the MWV Children’s Museum, Rotary, Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring Foundation, MWV Economic Council and more.
 
Meier shared, “It was a great honor to accept the proclamation from Governor Hassan on behalf of the Trails Association and Rec Path Committee. It recognizes the hard work of the entire board, and the support of townspeople who recently voted in favor of the effort. It’s great to be part of a law firm that encourages and expects its attorneys to be community-minded.”
 
Meier joined Cooper Cargill Chant in 2007, and became a director in 2010. Before coming to New Hampshire, Chris practiced in Massachusetts and clerked for the Justices of the Massachusetts Superior Court.  He concentrates his practice on the litigation of business, commercial, land use, probate, and consumer disputes.  Chris also counsels businesses in the areas of regulatory and corporate compliance, land use and municipal permitting and litigation avoidance. Chris regularly represents clients before both State and Federal courts throughout New England, administrative tribunals, municipal boards and private arbitrators and mediators.
 
Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses, and in personal injury work.
 
For more information, call 603-356-5439 or visit them online at www.coopercargillchant.com .

 

Online Renting: Traps for the Unaware

June 30, 2016

NORTH CONWAY, NH –  Use of online rental services like Airbnb, VRBO and Home Away has exploded in the last few years.  While use of these services may provide a relatively easy way to earn extra money from your in-law apartment or the unused time at your camp or condo, there are many traps and pitfalls of which a homeowner should be aware before listing your home.

Generally, when you transition from hosting friends in your home or guest room to strangers paying for it, you’ve changed from private property owner to business person. The law governing the use of your property changes accordingly.
 
First – Taxes:  the money you earn is income and you have to claim it on your federal and state income tax return. In addition, in New Hampshire, you may have to pay rooms and meals tax for each rental. Some services, like Airbnb actually collect the rent and pay it out to you, and then send you a form 1099 at the end of the year. This means the IRS is getting notice of the rent you’ve been paid. Other services like VRBO actually allow you to collect the rent directly from the renters and you have to keep track of your income.
 
Second – State law protects renters: In New Hampshire, short term vacation rentals are governed by RSA 540-C. Most importantly, this statute requires a property owner to obtain written rental agreements with specific provisions to evict a renter if they overstay their welcome – lest they become long term tenants. There are penalties for wrongful eviction.
 
Third – Insurance:  Property owners should check their homeowners insurance, as most standard  residential homeowners’ policies do not cover tenants or renters; and you may be violating your policy by renting.  In any case, damage caused by renters is not likely covered; and worse, if someone is hurt on your property, you may face a lawsuit with no insurance coverage. To be  covered, you will likely need to purchase additional insurance to cover your commercial use.
 
Fourth – Liability:  Most people hold the properties they rent in their own names, and therefore if a renter brings suit, your other assets might be exposed.  Property owners should consider additional liability protection, whether through corporate structuring, or additional umbrella insurance. 
 
Fifth – Condominium rules, zoning ordinances and safety regulations: Renting your property may be prohibited or limited by your condominium documents, homeowners’ association documents, deed restrictions, local zoning regulations, or safety codes.  Again, once you rent your property, you have changed the use of your property to a commercial use; and separate laws apply.  Short term rentals are prohibited by many Association documents; and the safety and fire codes may require substantial upgrades to the property for rental uses, including extra means of egress and automatic fire suppression.    
 
The most important thing to understand is that when you rent property to someone, your relationship with that person becomes a business relationship the law governing the relationship changes, and your exposure to financial risk is higher.  Before you list online, it is always a good idea to consult with your attorney and tax professionals to ensure that you and your assets are protected, and your new business is accomplished in a legal fashion. 
For more information, call 603-356-5439 or visit them online at www.coopercargillchant.com.