Last winter, dozens of renters affected by the Coyote Creek flooding incident were unaware they were living in a flood hazard area with Santa Clara County’s longest stream in proximity. But a new bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October will require landlords in the state of California to disclose in rental and lease agreements whether the property is located in a special flood hazard area as designated by FEMA , or an area of potential flooding.
The new law was authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San José), District 27. Kalra, who is a former San José Councilmember, visited the Rock Springs neighborhood in San José shortly after the flooding and observed many impacted residents were uninformed tenants.
Assemblymember Kalra worked with the California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtors to include language in the disclosure requirement recommending tenants purchase renter’s insurance and flood insurance. The Santa Clara Valley Water District supported the bill and helped advocate for its passage.
With this new law in place effective on all property rental agreements entered on or after July 1, 2018, tenants are made aware of potential flood risks for the property they will be inhabiting. Tenants will also be informed that even though the property owner is required to have flood insurance, the tenants’ personal belongings are not covered. Flood insurance is required for federally regulated mortgages on properties in FEMA designated flood zones. Once tenants are informed of the existing risks, they can seek extra protection through additional renter’s and flood insurance.
According to FEMA, 70 percent of total flood insurance policies issued are for single family homes. This disclosure law will help increase awareness among tenants on the availability of renter’s flood insurance, in hopes to reduce the number of losses during possible future floods.
In Santa Clara County, businesses and residents are eligible for policies under the National Flood Insurance Program, a federally subsidized flood insurance program, which includes policies for renters. Additionally, the water district and the city of San José participate in FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS) in which agencies earn “credits” for flood risk reduction activities, that result in discounts on insurance premiums for residents. The district’s active efforts in CRS save county residents about $2.3 million per year. Residents can learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program and be referred to a local insurance agent by calling: 1-888-379-9539.
Get more information on flood safety resources, including tips at http://www.valleywater.org/floodready.