With flooding issues becoming increasingly common in New Jersey, a plan is moving forward to alert Garden State residents about possible dangers they may face from floods before they buy a house or rent an apartment.

State Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, is sponsoring a measure, S3110 that would require home sellers and landlords to notify prospective buyers and renters if a property is at risk of being affected by flooding.

He said climate change is causing an increasing number of severe storms and Garden State residents should be made aware of potential risks before they sign a contract.

Smith explained the measure would require the Department of Community Affairs to create a form used by realtors and landlords to notify prospective buyers and renters of flooding risks.

“It’s jointly supported by environmentalists, by New Jersey Future, by the New Jersey Realtors Association,” he said.

Closeup of high water flooding on neighborhood street.
KSwinicki ThinkStock

How will flood risks get figured out?

Smith said the seller or landlord of a property will be required by law to disclose everything they know about previous flooding on the property, “and then we’re going to have a DEP website where the flood maps for the state of New Jersey are available, and someone will be able to focus in on their property and see what is the zone in which the property is located.”

He noted the DEP is in the process of reevaluating flood zones across the state right now so “you’re going to have the most current and available data on what is the flood risk for your property, is it perfect, no, but is it a lot more information than buyers or tenants have now, absolutely yes.”

Road Closed sign due to high water in front of water crossing over the road
mdegrood GettyImages

New problems everywhere

Smith said we are now seeing flooding in areas that never used to flood, and maps are going to be continually updated.

“Are they going to catch all the risks? No. But they’re going to show a lot of it and then people have to make a decision whether they are willing to take that risk when they buy or rent the property," he said.

“The potential, no matter how much water there is in a house, is tremendous for damage.”

The form to be used by realtors and landlords would indicate if any of the property is located in a Federal Emergency Management Agency designated floodplain, a Special Flood Hazard Area or a Risk Flood Hazard Area.

The legislation, which is being co-sponsored by state Sen. Dick Codey, D-Essex, has been approved by the Senate Environment and Energy committee and will now be considered by the full Upper House.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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