Flooding: Stay Out of Deep Water

In the News

If your home has ever been flooded, you’re no stranger to the stress of dealing with repairs and insurance claims. But did you know that if you sell your place, you’ll have to disclose any flooding or risk the deal falling through?

Flood zones

Flood zones are areas at risk of being flooded by a lake or river. Before buying property, it’s important to check if all or part of your future home is in a flood zone. There are a couple ways to do this:

  • The provincial and municipal governments have created flood zone maps. You can view the provincial map here (in French only).
  • The property’s certificate of location can tell you if the property is in a flood zone, and which portion of the building or land is at risk. This certificate is prepared by a land surveyor.

When you talk to your home insurance provider, you’ll have to disclose all information about the flood risk for your property. Insurance providers all have their own policies, and some may not cover properties located in a flood zone. If a provider won’t cover you, you can reach out to others to see if they will.

If you fail to fully disclose your flood risk, or lie about it, you could face problems if you ever need to make a claim. Your claim may even be denied.

Hidden defects

If you’re selling your home and it’s in a flood zone, you must tell the buyer. But what if your home isn’t in a flood zone — do you still have to tell the buyer if you’ve had flooding?

This question was at the heart of a 2007 court case. A couple decided to buy a house in Saint-Apollinaire. The property was by a river, but not in a flood zone. The seller mentioned that the basement flooded once in 2004 but provided no further details. The sale closed a few months later and that’s when the problems came rolling in. In June, four days after the buyers took possession, the basement flooded. It flooded again in July. The buyers then learned from the civil protection service that the house had been flooded every year since the early 2000s.

The buyers asked the judge to cancel the purchase and to order the seller to pay them for their expenses and other damages. The judge ruled in their favour, noting that the seller had to disclose all the flooding. If the buyers had known this crucial information, they likely wouldn’t have gone through with the purchase.

Climate change is making floods more common, so make sure you take extra care and get as much information as you can before buying that dream waterfront property.