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Flood Searches

The Environment Agency estimates that 1/6th of properties in England and Wales are at risk of being affected by flooding; this is not to say that 1 in 6 homeowners will wake up to flood water in their front room, rather that flood has a wider impact on property. ETSOS provides conveyancing flood searches to enable property practitioners to fully advise their clients of the potential risks posed by flood to their property purchase.

Aside from physical damage caused by floods, if a property is at risk of flooding it may be difficult to:

  • obtain a mortgage
  • obtain suitable insurance cover, or
  • sell the property.

This is likely to affect the value of the property.

The most common types of flooding are:

  • Surface water flooding – occurs when heavy rainfall overwhelms the drainage capacity of an area.
  • Sewer flooding – occurs when sewers are overwhelmed by heavy rainfall or when they become blocked.
  • Groundwater flooding – occurs when underground water levels rise above surface level. This is most likely to occur in low lying areas underlain by permeable rocks.
  • River flooding – occurs when a watercourse cannot cope with the water draining into it from the surrounding land.
  • Coastal flooding – results from a combination of high tides, low lying land and, sometimes, stormy conditions.
  • Flooding as a result of localised private drainage failure – for example failure in the operation of soakaways. This is the main reason for flood claims in the UK.

Legal professionals should encourage their clients (whether the purchaser, tenant or the lender) to obtain a desktop flood report, for any property they are considering purchasing or taking a lease of.

Indeed The Council of Mortgage Lender’s handbook states at 5.4.1 that you must ensure that all ‘usual and necessary searches’ and enquiries have been carried out. As demonstrated by recent incidents, the risk of flooding has increased, and as such the flood search has become one of the ‘usual and necessary searches’

A flood search will alert purchasers to any potential problems, at a stage when it is still possible to renegotiate the price, research whether insurance cover will be available, and discuss flood resistance or resilience measures. Failure to discuss this option with clients may (if subsequently they suffer flood damage) lead to suggestions that adequate due diligence was not carried out.

For more information on the Environment Agency’s National Assessment of Flood Risk, click here

Flood Re

The successor to the Statement of Principles, Flood Re has been developed to help homeowners in areas of high flood risk get insurance where previously home insurance was unaffordable.

Insurers contribute to a central fund and pass on the flood risk element of the policy, thereby reducing the risk taken on by the insurer, and providing more cost effective insurance premiums.

For more information on Flood Re, click here

The ETSOS quote and referral system is a free useful tool in keeping conveyancing work where it belongs: i.e. on the local high street! It is an essential way to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of Tesco law Gary Rycroft – Partner, Joseph A Jones & Co Solicitors

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