As climate risks increase, New York may require flood disclosures in home sales

By | September 14, 2023

HIGHLAND FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — Alan Oligario’s house is prone to flooding — and he wishes someone had told him before he bought it.

His first flood occurred in the first year after purchasing his home in Highland Falls, New York. The second came about ten years later. The third occurred in July, when torrential rains drenched the region and he woke up to knee-deep water in his home.

“If we had been informed, or if our neighbors had been informed of the flood situation, some things could have been done differently,” Oligario said, adding that he would not have bought his home or at least gotten insurance against it. the floods if he had known.

A bill in New York could soon require people selling their homes to disclose whether their properties have been flooded or are at risk of future flooding — a move advocates say is necessary as sea levels rise and intense storms with climate change lead to more flooding around the world. state.

State lawmakers approved the proposal earlier this year, and it now awaits the signature of New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The legislation comes as more New York counties experience flooding and inland areas that had been considered safe from such events have become more vulnerable to flooding, with recent storms in the region giving the bill’s supporters urgency.

“The increasing threat and presence of inland flooding, like what we saw during (Hurricane) Ida or like what was shown in the Hudson Valley, is a really important factor why flood disclosure is a bill so important,” said Tyler Taba, policy director for The Waterfront Alliance, an advocacy group that supported the proposal in New York.

“We’re seeing flooding occur outside of the floodplain much more frequently, and it’s really difficult to know if the property you’re looking at is at risk of flooding, especially if it’s far from water,” he said.

According to a National Climate Assessment report, the Northeast is experiencing the greatest increase in extreme precipitation of any region in the United States, and a rate of sea level rise three times greater than the global average. The region is also expected to see more frequent and intense storm events in the coming years.

The bill would close a loophole in state law that allowed sellers to pay a $500 fee to avoid disclosing flood hazards and other known property conditions such as lead paint and asbestos. It would also require sellers to provide additional information about flooding at their properties, such as whether the property is in a flood-prone area and whether any flood insurance claims have been filed.

New York already has a similar law for rental properties, which went into effect this year. If signed by Hochul, the current bill would make the state at least the 30th in the country to require disclosure of flood information during home sales.

Brian Fredrickson, another homeowner in Highland Falls, a northern New York village on the Hudson River at an elevation of 140 feet, said his home also was flooded during heavy rains in July, just about a year after purchasing the place.

He said inspections during the sales process showed his basement had some minor signs of water damage due to groundwater seepage, but he was unaware of his property’s full flooding history and that a nearby retaining wall served to keep the water at bay. it had been damaged by a storm about ten years ago.

“As far as the flooding story, it hasn’t been disclosed, nor does it need to be,” Fredrickson said.

Bill sponsor Assemblyman Robert Carroll said homebuyers are generally informed of flood risks only if they are purchasing a property in a 100-year floodplain designated by federal emergency management officials , which he believes potentially does not capture the current reality of flood risks.

“There has been a flood in every single county in New York for the last 10 years,” he said. “Many of these floods did not occur in flood plains and so this will cause…buyers to be afforded the knowledge that the seller has.”

A spokesperson for Hochul said it was unclear when the governor would sign the bill.


Izaguirre reported from Albany, New York


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