March 14, 2024

What to be aware of when buying properties at risk of flooding

The Environmental Agency states that 5.2 million properties (or 1 in 6) are at risk of flooding. With flooding more commonplace due to climate change, we thought it important to highlight the things you need to be aware of when buying a property that could be affected by flooding.

What are the different types of flooding that impact properties?

There are four main different types of flooding:

  1. River flooding
  2. Coastal flooding
  3. Surface water/pluvial/flash flooding- responsible for over 60% of UK flooding
  4. Ground water

Surface water flooding is responsible for over 60% of UK flooding. However, in January 2024 it was river flooding that saw the devastating effects on the town of Marlborough, causing many homes and businesses to be evacuated. This included our Marlborough office team, but thankfully we were one of the lucky ones, and avoided any damages to our facilities.

What are the possible consequences of flooding?

  1. Structural damage
  2. Contamination of carpets, soft furnishings, personal effects etc
  3. Stress
  4. Lack of services and utilities
  5. Relocation
  6. Potential loss in value
  7. There may be a delay with contacting insurance companies, builders etc if multiple properties in your local area, and insurance premiums may rise as a result.

What checks should be made if you are purchasing a property at risk of flooding?

There is certain due diligence which should be undertaken before exchanging contracts –

  1. Make enquiries with the seller with regards to past flooding. The seller of a residential property should complete the Law Society Form TA6 which will provide you with information on this.
  2. Ensure sufficient and acceptable insurance is available.
  3. Obtain a desktop search. Information is provided in the environmental search which your lawyer will obtain for you as part of the suite of pre-exchange searches, if required by you and your lender.
  4. Check what public flood defences are in the local area.
  5. Speak to your surveyor or obtain a specialist flood report.

You should also consider making a flood plan and signing up for warnings once contracts have been exchanged.

Can I ensure a property at risk of flooding?

With regards to insurance, Flood Re is a scheme which was started in April 2016 and caps the premiums payable for homeowners under their policy. This is due to expire in 2039, and whilst helpful for many residential properties, the following properties are not eligible under the scheme:

  1. Commercial properties
  2. Properties built after January 2009
  3. Mixed use property
  4. Buy to let residential properties
  5. Purpose built block of flats
  6. Properties converted in to four flats

The Association of British Insurers has some helpful guidance with regards to flooding on its website and further details can be found on the government website here.

If you are selling a property, then you will also need to ensure that you disclose any previous flooding in the Property information form.

Thinking of purchasing or selling a property at risk of flooding?

Our residential property department would be delighted to assist you. Contact us now to find out how we can make the your purchase or sale go as smoothly as possible.

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