WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Madeleine Dean (D-PA-04), Andrew Garbarino (NY-02), and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) introduced the Flood History Information Act which would ensure that potential home buyers have access to a property’s flooding history prior to purchase. Dean and Garbarino previously introduced the bipartisan bill in the 117th Congress. 

In small towns and large cities, floods have destroyed homes, isolated communities, and left scars of financial and emotional distress across the whole country. As climate change continues to increase global temperatures—making storms more intense—Americans must be made aware of the threat flooding poses to their homes.

“As communities everywhere, including in my own district, suffer from increasing natural disasters due to climate change, it is especially critical that home buyers have the necessary information about a property’s flood history, potential risk, and need for flood insurance,” Rep Dean said. “I thank Rep. Garbarino and Rep. Wexton for their partnership on this important bipartisan bill.”

The bill requires FEMA to provide information on whether the property owner would need to purchase flood insurance due to previous federal disaster assistance. It would also require FEMA to provide information on the number and dollar value of flood insurance claims filed for a property over the life of the property. This bill would charge a fee for insurance companies to access the flood history database but would not charge a fee for buyers or current owners. 

The Flood History Information Act would apply to properties under the NFIP and to private insurance companies who choose to participate in the data sharing agreement with FEMA.

“As part of a coastal community, Long Islanders experience the good and bad of living near the water,” Rep Garbarino said. “As wonderful as it is, flooding is a very real challenge that, when it occurs, can be devastating for homeowners. Prospective homeowners deserve to have all of the information when purchasing a home and, by requiring FEMA to collect and share flood history data, homebuyers can make informed decisions about their flood risk and prepare accordingly.”

New home buyers and renters should have a right to know about their home’s flood history and risk. However, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 23 states still do not require a seller to disclose to a buyer whether a home has previously flooded.

Furthermore, Urban flooding events have occurred in the U.S. once every 2-3 days for the past 25 years. Flooding has cost US taxpayers more than $850 billion since 2000 and is responsible for ? of the cost from all natural disasters. 

The Flood History Information Act is endorsed by the National Association of REALTORS.

“Realtors® applaud Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (PA) for reintroducing the Flood History Information Act, which will authorize FEMA to disclose NFIP claims data to homebuyers and owners. Homebuyers have a right to this information before making one of the largest and most important purchases of their life. Given the widespread flooding that has occurred across the nation in recent years, this legislation is especially critical and timely,” the National Association of REALTORS said. “In November, NAR unveiled a Flood Disclosure Tracker, which identifies all state flood disclosure requirements. In this announcement, NAR supported the Flood History Information Act, echoing the importance of bringing transparency to the flood disclosure process for buyers and renters. Realtors® support this bill and urge Congress to include these provisions in any long-term reauthorization and reform measure.”

Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.