The Ever-Present Risk of Flooding – Tony Rollason, Landmark

Sadly the topic of flooding is never far away from the headlines. In November 2019, significant flooding occurred across the Midlands and north of England, which was said to affect over 2,400 homes and businesses.

Fast forward to 2020 and Storm Ciara and Dennis have brought a great deal of devastation across the country, with the Midlands region impacted once again. Statistics from insurance firm Aviva have shown that there was a 285% surge in insurance claims to repair damage caused by the storms, with Birmingham listed as one of the worst-hit cities.

Updated Flood Risk practice note and TA6 Property Information Form from The Law Society

Flooding is said to cost the UK approximately £600m a year to manage flood defences alone, without considering the economic and emotional damage caused by flood waters.

Due to the increasing concern about flood risk for property owners, the Law Society has recently updated its Flood Risk practice note – the first revision in four years. The practice note provides guidance relating to information sources that better help clients understand the risk that flooding may pose, as well as offer steps that can be taken with regards to insurance and searches.

The practice note includes information relating to the types of flood risks that have the potential to affect property owners. For example, a property doesn’t have to be located next to a river for it to be located in a high risk zone. Flooding from surface water or groundwater is increasingly common and something that should always be researched in advance of a house purchase.

If flooding is a concern, it is important to investigate whether appropriate insurance cover can be arranged before a property transaction completes, to satisfy the risk criteria of the client’s mortgage lender.

On top of this, the Law Society has also published an updated TA6 Property Information Form and guidance notes. In particular, four areas of property information have been updated relating to Flood Risk, as well Japanese Knotweed, Radon and Septic Tanks. The update provides additional information about a property to prospective buyers and is designed to provide greater transparency.

Survey shows most people have not checked their flood risk level

Yet, while there is a plethora of guidance and support out there, unfortunately, recent research conducted by YouGov for Landmark Information has shown that the majority of consumers in Great Britain are still not checking the flood risk of their homes, despite the increased incidents of flood events happening across the country.

The survey found that 62% of people stated that they have never checked the flood risk level of their home.

When looking at regions, the survey found that people in Scotland are the least likely to have carried out any checks with 77% confirming they had never researched their flood risk. This was followed by those in London (71%), 65% of those in the North West of England and 63% in Yorkshire and Humber. In the Midlands, 59% of people said they had never checked their flood risk.

The survey also found that just 6% of people in the Midlands have a flood plan and would know how to put it into action if a flood was to occur. More than a third (36%) admitted that they do not have a flood plan and wouldn’t know what to do if they were to experience a flood, while almost half (46%) said they didn’t have a flood plan, yet felt they would know what to do in the event of a flood.

The survey clearly shows that the public is not necessarily making flood checks part of the research they personally conduct when moving into a new home; just over a quarter (26%) of respondents from the Midlands said they checked the flood risk of their home before moving in, with 12% saying they checked afterwards.

The results of the survey show a worrying disconnect. The majority of people across the country – 88% – believe their property is not located in an area considered ‘at risk’ of flooding, yet 62% have never checked whether this is the case or not.

According to the Environment Agency, over five million properties are considered to be at risk of flooding – of which 2.4 million properties are at risk from the sea or rivers, and a larger share of 2.8 million properties are at risk of surface water flooding, which isn’t always visibly apparent.

With future projections suggesting that we will witness drier summers and wetter winters in the future, we are urging people to be far more aware of any environmental risk that may affect where they live, particularly when buying a new property as part of the conveyancing process. After all, reliable search reports – which include assessment by environmental consultants – are widely available and provide a wealth of intelligence, that ensures homeowners are aware of potential risks and can prepare accordingly.

 

Tony Rollason is Regional Manager – Legal at Landmark

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