Hawaii Act 179 (Senate Bill 474): Relating to Real Property Transactions
On July 2, 2021, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed into law Act 179 (Senate Bill 474), which requires that sellers of real estate located in areas at risk of sea-level rise disclose this information to potential buyers (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 508D-15 (2021)). Policymakers passed the law to ensure that prospective buyers are aware of future risks to property related to sea-level rise.
Hawaii law requires that a seller disclose all “material facts” related to residential real property up for sale (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 508D-1 (2013)).1 Previously, Hawaii law already designated certain flood vulnerabilities as “material facts” that require seller disclosure — for example, where real property lies within certain flood hazard zones or tsunami inundation areas.2
Act 179 expanded this mandate to also require that a seller disclose where property falls within a “sea-level rise exposure area”: “The value of property lying within the boundaries of a sea level rise exposure area will likely be affected over time, which the legislature determines to be a material fact that should be disclosed by the seller in a real property transaction.”
“Sea-level rise exposure areas” are determined according to the Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission's most recent Hawaii Sea-Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report (report).3 The report includes maps of areas susceptible to sea-level rise impacts based on a 3.2-foot projected increase.
Publication Date: July 2, 2021
- State of Hawaii
- Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission
1. Hawaii law defines “material fact” as “any fact, defect, or condition, past or present, that would be expected to measurably affect the value to a reasonable person of the residential real property being offered for sale.” Haw. Rev. Stat. § 508D-1 (2013).
2. Hawaii law mandates seller disclosure where a real property lies in a special flood hazard area, as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the purposes of determining eligibility for emergency flood insurance programs. The law also mandates seller disclosure where real property lies within anticipated tsunami inundation areas as designated by the Hawaii Department of Defense. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 508D-15 (2021).
3. The Hawaii Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission is an interagency commission first established by Act 83 (2014) and expanded upon by Act 32 (2017). In 2017, the commission released its first Hawaii Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report, which must be updated every five years.