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6/6/2024 Assembly approves bill to educate buyers of shoreline property of the public’s right to access the shoreline
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly has approved legislation from Sen. Victoria Gu and Rep. Terri Cortvriend to improve disclosure of shoreline access rights and related conditions during the sale of oceanfront property.

The legislation (2024-S 2185A, 2024-H 7376A) now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

“This legislation builds on the historic shoreline access law that we passed last year,” said Senator Gu (D-Dist. 38, Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown). “A lot of people in Rhode Island are now aware of the new law but a lot of people coming in from other states to buy property aren’t necessarily aware of it. This is an important consumer protection and education measure to ensure that people buying ocean front real estate understand the public’s right to access the shoreline.”

Said Representative Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), “As we have seen in the news recently, sometimes when houses are sold permits aren’t passed on to buyers and rights of way are forgotten, leading to a potential rude awakening for buyers and putting public access to our shores under threat. This legislation will make sure permits stay with a property and no one is surprised when Rhode Islanders enjoy their constitutional right to enjoy our coasts.”

The bill is designed to educate new buyers of oceanfront property on Rhode Island shoreline access law and avoid surprises that might come up with the sale of the property. It would update the sale disclosure form for shoreline property to include the public’s rights and privileges to the shore up to 10 feet above the recognizable high tide line, require the seller to disclose any known rights of way to the buyer and require the seller to provide the buyer with copies of any Coastal Resources Management Council permits in the seller’s possession. The disclosure form also advises the buyer to contact CRMC to find out if any public rights of way or permits are tied to the property.

A recent dispute over public access of a seawall shows that currently this disclosure is lacking.

“Ensuring that new coastal property owners are made aware of the public’s shoreline access rights should go a long way towards avoiding future disputes,” said Jed Thorp, Rhode Island Director of Clean Water Action. “We commend Senator Gu and Representative Cortvriend for introducing this legislation.” 

Said Mike Woods, chair of the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, “Transaction by transaction, we have an educational opportunity to make sure homeowners coming to the state or moving within Rhode Island learn what they are entitled to when they buy property by the shore.”

For more information, contact:
Tristan Grau, Publicist
State House Room B20
Providence, RI 02903