Alistair Millar, solicitor at Tallents in Southwell, explains why potential purchasers should always investigate the risk and potential impact of flooding for every property. You’ve finally found the home of your dreams, secured the funding to buy it and have already started planning how you’re going to improve it when you move in. But one additional check should always be made before you sign on the dotted line and take possession of the keys. Alistair Millar, solicitor at Tallents in Southwell, explains why potential purchasers should always investigate the risk and potential impact of flooding for every property. Says Alistair, “Every year that goes by seems to bring more flooding misery to homeowners in the UK. Properties that seem completely landlocked, miles from water sources, are shown on the news several feet underwater. When caught up in the prospect of owning a new home, many purchasers forget to consider flooding risks, but no-one should now assume their house is safe from the risk of flooding.” The Environment Agency report ‘Flooding in England’ issued in June 2009, shows there are around 5.2 million properties in England, or one in six buildings, at risk of flooding. The expected annual flooding damages to residential and non-residential properties in England are estimated at more than £1 billion. The cost of remedial work to a flood-damaged property can run into the tens of thousands, so potential flooding should always be a serious consideration when buying a property. Says Alistair, “In the first instance, purchasers can check the flood map on the Environment Agency website (www.environment-agency.gov.uk), which shows areas of England at particular risk of flooding. “However, the flood map shouldn’t be relied on to provide all the answers. For example:
  • It only shows flooding risks from existing water sources (rivers and the sea), not surface water flooding, more of which is happening now in the UK.
  • It doesn’t show information about individual properties within a postcode.
 “To allow you to assess the potential flood risk, you should always ask your solicitor to carry out a Flood Risk Report when purchasing a property.” A Flood Risk Report is a detailed document, designed to assess the risk of flooding from groundwater, surface water, sea water and river water, for a specific property. Alistair comments, “As part of the normal conveyancing work, your solicitor should always enquire before contract as to whether the property has been affected by flooding in the past. However, the replies given can often be non-committal, so a Flood Risk Report is the best way to ascertain potential flooding risks.” An identified flood risk will have an impact on the availability and impact of building insurance, which is required to make the property mortgageable, and ultimately will affect its value. The Association of British Insurers has said that its members will continue to offer flood risk insurance for properties at risk of flooding until June 2013 but after that point they intend to return to risk-based pricing for flood insurance. Alistair continues, “At Tallents Solicitors we encourage our clients to consider a Flood Risk Report when purchasing property. The issues it might highlight could save tens of thousands of pounds in the long term.”  
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