New Texas Law Requires Landlords to Disclose Flood History of Property

Texas has enacted the most stringent law in the nation obliging landlords to divulge whether a property has been flooded or is in a flood-prone zone. The law took effect on January 1, 2022. Since Hurricane Harvey dumped record rainfalls in Houston in 2017 causing $140 billion in property damage, the state has been leading in flood disclosure to protect the interests of renters and buyers.

Reducing the Risk of Flooding

Flooding is the most common disaster in the Lone Star state with all areas at risk for overflowing water. Flash flooding can occur in any zone and even in flat spaces. The good news is there are several ways to reduce the chances of inundations. Property owners can take measures to prevent homes from being submerged in water due to heavy rainfall. According to a professional roofer Fort Worth TX has a moderate risk of flooding, but heavy precipitation can still lead to damage and destruction. Hence, good roofing maintenance is important to prevent submersions. Furthermore, downspouts and gutters must be cleaned at least once a year or more frequently if there are lots of trees around the house. Improving grading and drainage around a structure can also help in preventing water accumulation.

Another solution is to raise the elevation of a property. Experts recommend that foundations of new builds be elevated by over 18 inches. It is also possible to retroactively raise your house by placing a higher foundation under the structure. Dry floodproofing is another strategy that is worth investing. It works by treating the foundation with sealants and membranes thwarting water from leaking into the house. Other ways to flood proof dwellings include installing flood vents and sump pumps.

Flood-Disclosure Law Implications

While homeowners can implement several measures to cut the risks of flooding, renters who are signing leases have little protection from renting property that is prone to water damage.   Based on an analysis by the Texas Legislature, many renters in Texas live in areas that are   susceptible to flooding. Hence, the new flood-disclosure law is timely as it helps tenants in making informed decisions for their families says Chrishelle Palay, a housing advocate in Houston. The law requires disclosures for every rental agreement. The form contains two paragraphs where property owners can check whether a home has been flooded in the past 5 years and whether it is in an area that has a 1% annual chance of being flooded.

While the new law will save some time for prospective tenants to back out of an agreement based on the info reflected in the form, there are also other implications of the disclosure. A University of Pennsylvania Law Review article contends that flood disclosure is not enough for tenants and will not have the desired impact that proponents would like. The article also states that it may unintentionally make flood-prone properties reasonably priced, but at the same time exposes low-income renters to flood risk.

The flood-disclosure law in Texas forces property owners and managers to tell potential renters whether a structure has been flooded or if it is prone to inundations. It can help renters save time and make informed decisions about the right places to live.

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