New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill this week that would require landlords and real estate agents to warn prospective buyers or tenants about previous flooding on properties.

The bill also mandates that sellers or landlords disclose whether a home is in a 100-year floodplain or 500-year floodplain, as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. New Jersey has been one of 21 states without strong flood disclosure requirements, according to the Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for coastal resilience in New York and New Jersey.

The bill tasks the state Department of Environmental Protection with creating a user-friendly website where landlords and residents can list and check whether a property is in a flood zone or at risk of flooding in the future.

“If you’re looking to rent or buy a home you have the right to know the risks of flooding before you make a commitment and this bill makes clear that you have that right,” said Peter Kasabach, executive director of New Jersey Future, which focuses on equitable development policy. “We really believe that you shouldn’t get put in a situation where you have to deal with the consequences of being in a high-risk flood area if the seller or landlord knows about it.”

The measure comes as the state is bracing for stronger and more frequent storms due to climate change.

A July 2022 report by actuarial firm Milliman, which was commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, found nearly 8,000 homes that previously flooded were purchased in New Jersey in 2021. The report said the average home buyer of a previously flooded property in the state can expect to sustain about $25,000 in damages over a 15-year period. That goes up to $50,000 over a 30-year period, the report found.

“The failure to require disclosure of past flood damages is already costing New Jerseyans tens of thousands of dollars,” Joel Scata, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement this week. “This transparency is essential to ensure home buyers and renters can make an informed decision about how to best protect their families from flooding, especially in a coastal state, like New Jersey, where flooding is increasing due to climate change.”

The Department of Community Affairs will develop a standard notice for landlords to fill out to disclose whether flood risks exist. A tenant who experiences substantial flood damage but wasn’t properly notified by a landlord of the risk could terminate a lease and sue to recover damages, according to the bill.

“It's due time for our state to join the 29 others that mandate transparency on this issue," Kimberley Irby, policy manager at New Jersey Future, said in a statement.

The flood disclosure bill was proposed last fall, almost exactly a year after the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused widespread flooding in the state, killing 30 people, and just weeks ahead of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy's barrel up the coast.

New York requires a seller to inform a potential buyer whether a property is in a floodplain and whether that has caused any standing water, but a seller who chooses not to only needs to pay a $500 credit to the buyer in exchange.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's current ratings give both states Fs for failing to provide home buyers with adequate information.

The bill now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk. Murphy's office said he does not comment on pending legislation.

This post has been updated to include response from Gov. Phil Murphy's office.