HOUSTON — Starting in January landlords must abide by a new law warning renters of the potential flood risk for a property.
The bill authored by Texas Representative Armando Walle was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott this summer.
“All we want to do is empower communities, empower tenants of their rights and one of those rights is a warning that this particular home was flooded in the past,” said Walle.
His bill mandates landlords tell potential tenants that a property is in a 100-year flood plain and if it has flooded in the last five years. It only applies to tenants who sign or renew a lease starting January 1, 2022. Landlords with certain raised properties in the 100-year flood plain are exempt.
“More than half of the population in Harris County, they’re renters,” said Walle, which means his new law will have wide-reaching impact.
The flood warning should be a written notice given to a potential renter before or during the lease signing.
Renters near Brays Bayou who have seen the area significantly flood three times since 2016 say this new law is a great protection.
“I am very happy to hear that, anything would help,” said Daniel Quiroz.
“They need something like that because people have to know. It’s like buying a used car, you don’t know if it’s been flooded or not until you drive it,” said Bob Culver.
Tammy Goodall moved into an apartment across the street from Brays Bayou two years ago.
“I’ve watched the bayou come all the way to the top, like literally from my apartment I could see the water, so it was very overwhelming and scary,” she recalled.
Goodall wasn’t here during the Tax Day or Memorial Day floods that filled the streets and homes of southwest Houston. And her landlord has never told her about the flooding risk of her apartment, located in a 100-year flood plain.
“No, they haven’t told us that, I knew nothing about that,” said Goodall.
And that lack of knowledge is what State Rep. Armando Walle is trying to change.
If a renter is not given this warning with a new lease in January and succumbs to flooding, the law allows the renter to break their lease.
“If they’re not given the warning, they are allowed to break the lease and recover costs for breaking that lease,” said Walle.
He says this new law brings renters in line with home buyers, who already have this protection.