New law requires Westchester landlords to notify potential tenants of flood risks
A new law now requires property owners in Westchester to provide potential tenants with a Flood History Disclosure form on a property before a deal is done.
The document asks landlords to note if the property is in a Special Flood Hazard Area, if it flooded in the last 10 years, to describe the flooding including how high the water reached, and any efforts undertaken to reduce flood risk.
“This is a simple form which can save tenants a complex headache. As the cliché goes, knowledge is power. Providing greater information to prospective tenants can help them protect their property, and lives when the forecast calls for a major storm," said George Latimer, Westchester County executive.
Several communities in the county have a long history of dealing with the serious impacts of flooding following large storms including Mount Vernon, parts of Yonkers, and neighborhoods along the Sound Shore.
"It would probably be a good idea, especially if someone [doesn't] know the area so they don't already know more likely where it tends to flood," said Hope Scherr, who rents an apartment in Yonkers.
County lawmakers argue the law is important because many times prospective tenants are unaware of how likely a property might flood especially if they're not from the area.
But many landlords see this as an additional burden.
Howie Ravikoff is the Vice President of the Ravikoff Property Management Company and says there's good intent behind the law but renters should be responsible for doing their research.
"If a tenant is concerned about a flood being an issue in a potential apartment they're looking at it should be their burden. Take this off of the landlords' shoulders," said Ravikoff.
The law covers both residential and commercial properties and went into effect today, Aug. 15. The form is available here.