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New Jersey Future Shapes and Supports New Flood Disclosure Legislation

October 21st, 2022 by

New Jersey Future’s Kim Irby and Peter Kasabach testifying at the August 11, 2022 joint Assembly and Senate Environment Committee hearing. Photo Credit: Hannah Reynolds

New Jersey has started down the path to join 29 other states that require home sellers to disclose past flood damages to potential buyers. Senate Bill 3110, which would benefit renters in addition to homeowners, was introduced last week at the Senate Environment and Energy Committee hearing on Thursday, October 6. This bill took shape two months after a joint Assembly and Senate Environment Committee hearing in which New Jersey Future testified on the need for robust flood disclosure legislation. In addition to New Jersey Future, Environment New Jersey and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed testified in support of flood disclosure transparency, while the New Jersey Apartment Association testified against the bill, suggesting a few changes to the portion relevant to landlords. 

The destruction wrought by the remnants of Hurricane Ida in 2021 is still fresh in the state’s memory, and, even more recently, the remnants of Hurricane Ian caused flooding issues along the Jersey Shore just days before the committee hearing. Mandating flood disclosure is a common sense action for a state with coastal and inland flooding risks that are increasing due to climate change. Improving consumer transparency through this law will not only benefit current renters and homeowners, but also future generations who seek to locate in newly designated flood zones as FEMA and insurance companies update their maps. Ultimately, this legislative action will help save current and future New Jerseyans money and stress in the long term. 

New Jersey Future worked through the Rise To Resilience Coalition and with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to advance specific flood disclosure requirements to both the New Jersey seller’s property disclosure statement and lease agreements. This work, also done in consultation with relevant stakeholders such as New Jersey Realtors, culminated in this bill, which will hopefully undergo a smooth process to reach the finish line.

Earlier this year, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published a report that estimated far higher damage costs to previously flooded homes in comparison to homes that had not been flooded. In response to that report, Pete Kasabach said: “New Jersey is the most developed state in the nation. This intense development coupled with the experiences of [Hurricanes] Sandy and Ida have demonstrated just how vulnerable our coastal and riverine communities are to flooding… It is well past time that New Jersey residents get the most complete and timely information about flood risks before they rent or purchase a home.”

The Senate bill was unanimously voted out of committee, with amendments, and now makes its way to the Senate floor, with an Assembly version assumed to be forthcoming. If the bill is signed into law at the Governor’s desk, as is widely anticipated before the close of this legislative session, New Jersey Future will work to ensure implementation is swift. It is past due time that all New Jersey homeowners or renters can consider the extent of their flood risk before choosing the place they will make their home.

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