Today, we’re posting a guest post by Erin Deady, a Florida-certified lawyer, about Florida’s flood disclosure rules.
Flooding is a problem in Florida that makes sense given the size of the coast. As a Florida real estate agent, this has a direct impact on how you work. You must understand and comply with flood disclosure laws.
During the “King Tide” season, the condition occurs when the orbits and alignment of Earth, Moon and Sun together produce the greatest tidal effects of the year. More extreme precipitation conditions can overwhelm older drainage systems.
These conditions may not always be easy to observe. They can vary from year to year. The conditions can also apply for longer periods, such as recently in Key Largo, After all, these conditions can be exacerbated by winds, an active tropical storm season, or just a 1: 100 year storm event, which now takes place every 2 years.
Do you know how to deal with these changing conditions when helping Florida customers? Here’s what you need to know!
What do you have to disclose in connection with floods?
Realtors® obligations vary across states based on state laws or other factors. It is important to look beyond the standard real estate contract to understand flood information that is not limited to whether a flood insurance claim has been made.
Due to the different types of flood events, their duration, their causes and their characteristics, there may be different types of flood information that can or should be disclosed. This is more confusing when the flood is on a street rather than on the property itself.
As knowledge of these flood problems is more widespread, it may be beneficial to disclose more information about known flood conditions.
An example: Florida’s Flood Disclosure Standard
In one case in Florida, Johnson v Davis, the Florida Supreme Court ruled, “If the home seller knows the facts that significantly affect the value of the property and that are not readily apparent and are not known to the buyer, that will be subject to.” Seller has an obligation to inform the buyer ”.
It is unclear to what extent road flooding restricting access to a property affects its value, or whether such a disclosure standard would only apply to flooding on the actual property. The cause or origin of the flood and the question of whether damage has occurred or not are not given.
Can there be local flood disclosure requirements?
Yes, there is a local ordinance in Leon County, Florida (not coastal and land) that specifically addresses flood-related disclosures (Leon County Code of Laws, Section 12-8 (b)). It is said that a seller cannot knowingly neglect to disclose facts when a property has been flooded or at risk of flooding if such flood conditions are not easily observed and are not known to the buyer.
This failure to disclose gives rise to a rebuttable presumption that the seller has not disclosed facts that have a material impact on the value and entitles the buyer to demand a recovery from the seller. So while the legal standard laid down in case law is broader, the local regulation explicitly requires that facts related to flooding be disclosed.
What should I disclose?
This depends on the facts and is based on state laws and / or local regulations. Flood conditions can be an untested legal issue and nobody wants to be the “test case”.
Realtors®, however, cannot simply continue as before. Find out about the legal standard. This can differ from the standard contract. Also find out if there is a local disclosure requirement.
It is becoming increasingly important to understand the full scope of flood disclosure requirements. The new reality of climate-related flooding may require new disclosure considerations.
Erin L. Deady, P.A., is a full-service legal and consulting firm. Company President Erin Deady is an American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certified attorney in Florida and a LEED AP. Ms. Deady’s work focuses primarily on representing the government in the public sector, but also includes numerous private and agricultural clients. Ms. Deady’s work includes environmental remediation initiatives, water, energy, climate, municipal, administrative, real estate, and land use issues.
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