Calgary’s REALTORS® are welcoming the province’s decision to back down on its “rash” decision to require mandatory warnings on land titles for properties in areas at risk for flooding.
“They weren’t in a position to make any decisions,” said CREB® President Becky Walters. “So why somebody decided to come out with that kind of a rash announcement was really just a reaction to the capacity they were dealing with at that point, and somebody said ‘What about the future?’
“It wasn’t thoroughly thought through. It was an unfortunate reaction.”
Following the flooding that affected several communities in Southern Alberta, the Redford government proposed all homes currently in floodways would have a mandatory “location notice” on their land title to warn future owners of flood risks.
“Since we introduced our flood mitigation program to protect homeowners from future floods a few weeks ago, some common questions have been raised,” said Rick Fraser, associate minister of Regional Recovery and Reconstruction. “We’ve heard Albertans loud and clear and have taken their feedback to adjust the policy.”
Those homeowners who live on floodways and flood fringes who received disaster aid from the province will still have the fact they received funding included on their land titles. For property owners in the flood fringe areas, the notice will be removed from the land title once minimum mitigation requirements have been met. However, the notice will remain on those homes on floodways to indicate future owners will be ineligible for future funding.
Property-owners who received an advance Disaster Recovery Program payment may return the payment in order to avoid the notice.
The changes also came under fire from Alberta’s official opposition with calls the modifications will only serve to further complicate already strained homeowners.
“[The] announcement will only increase the confusion of flooded out residents. It will also suggest to those living in floodways which were not flooded this year, that the process of flood mapping is irrelevant as future flood ways may now be determined simply by where the next flood strikes,” said Wildrose Municipal Affairs Critic Bruce Rowe.
The Redford government has also made what they are calling “minor” changes to the minimum mitigation measures. Designed to minimize basement damage and speed restoration, the new measures give homeowners the option of leaving their basements unfinished, using cleanable, “moisture resistant” materials or using disposable materials.
“We want to help property owners get their homes back to normal as quickly as possible while ensuring the property is protected from future floods,” said Fraser. “These changes will make mitigation easier and more efficient.”
The changes also apply to electrical equipment in the home, where mitigation includes relocating the main electrical panel from the basement, installing a weatherproof disconnect switch on the outside of the building and/or installing a service panel in the garage and feeding the house as a subpanel.
The provincial government stated additional funding will be available through the Disaster Recovery Program for homeowners to meet these new requirements.
In addition to checking their property on the flood mapping hazard website, Walters recommends consulting your REALTOR® for any precautions people should take when purchasing a home, especially for those moving to the city for the first time.
“People coming from out of town are the ones that are going to be uneducated [about the flooding] and they need to make sure they ask the question of their REALTOR® ‘How do I find out whether or not this property I’m interested in has been affected?’”
Walters recommends before purchasing, buyers ensure affected homes are able to be insured and financed, and consider the possibility of inserting those items in their offer to purchase.
Applications for the Disaster Recovery Program are available online at www.alberta.ca or by calling 1-888-671-1111.