Op-Ed by Guy McClurkan, The Invading Sea, August 2, 2019

The climate is changing, and it has become abundantly clear that Florida is going to be badly damaged in the decades ahead.

With the state experiencing increasingly devastating effects of severe tropical weather and frequent flooding in some neighborhoods, there has never been a more important time for Floridians to have information that can inform their decisions, especially when it comes to purchasing or renting a home.

When a family in Florida decides to buy or rent a home, they should feel confident they have the resources and power needed to make informed decisions and get truthful answers.

Today, that’s not the case. Sellers and landlords have no statutory obligation to inform a would-be buyer or renter of a home’s flood history or the flood hazard associated with the property.

This is a problem with a simple solution and the Florida Legislature should act swiftly in its 2020 session to ensure homebuyers and renters are well informed on property decisions by requiring disclosures for flood hazard and history.

Of course, homebuyers should still do their own homework by analyzing property records and having a licensed professional inspect the property.

However, smart choices and due diligence don’t always reveal all the facts. Requiring that sellers and landlords disclose flood history and risk is a commonsense step toward assuring that buyers and renters take flooding seriously.

Without proper disclosure, families can underestimate risk and make the potentially tragic error of underinsuring or neglecting to insure their home against flooding. So, if there’s a disaster, they are often left short, looking to the government for financial assistance, which may not exist or be woefully inadequate.

Implementing a flood hazard and history disclosure process is not only good policy, it also is widely supported by American families.

In a poll conducted by The Pew Charitable Trusts this year, 74 percent of Americans surveyed said they support requiring sellers and landlords to inform potential buyers and renters about a home’s flood history.

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