Flood Risk homes
This winter, many homeowners will once again prepare themselves for the possibility of flooding, which is a growing risk for some properties and something a number of Kent’s residents have had to deal with in recent years.
Some people will buy a property, especially those in a fantastic location, fully aware that at some time, it may suffer from flooding. However aside from the physical damage caused by floods, if a property is at risk of flooding, it may be difficult to obtain a mortgage, suitable insurance cover or sell the property
Nobody can ever say that a property that has not previously been flooded will never flood again and new properties in particular may be tested by the extremes of weather experienced in recent winters.
There are a number of checks that can be undertaken by the buyer or on a buyer’s behalf which will give them a better understanding of the risks.
The standard documentation supplied to a buyer’s solicitor contains a standard enquiry of the seller to ascertain whether any part of the property has ever been flooded and if so, the type of flooding that occurred.
If flooding has previously occurred which is not disclosed by the seller, then a buyer could bring a compensation claim as a result of such an incorrect reply.
It is important to ensure that the surveyor instructed to act on the buyer’s behalf has local knowledge. The buyer themselves can also make personal enquiries of neighbours, local businesses and consult the Environment Agency Flood Map. This provides a free postcode search for information on flooding from rivers and the sea, but not common flood causes such as surface water and ground water.
A further useful indicator is the buyer making enquiries to establish the terms on which buildings insurance (including flood risk cover) is available. A prohibitive premium or an insurance company potentially declining to insure the property would highlight real cause for concern.
If difficulties are experienced in obtaining appropriate buildings insurance and having considered the matter further, a buyer still wishes to proceed, then the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, have produced a guide “Obtaining Flood Insurance in High Risk Areas” for those experiencing difficulty in obtaining flood insurance.
Alan Williams is head of the residential conveyancing team at Gullands Solicitors and can be reached at