Checking if a Property is at Risk from Flooding

Flooding is now a major problem for many parts of the UK, and as our climate changes, the problem is growing. As well as putting lives in danger, a flood can destroy homes and property in no time at all. If a property is found to be in an area at risk from flooding this can have a seriously negative effect on its value and increase insurance premiums.

It is therefore important, even in areas which are not traditionally thought of as being in danger of flooding, to make some enquiries and investigations.

Environment Agency Website

A good place to start is the Agency Website. This contains free information on whether the property is in a flood plain and whether it is at risk from flooding. It also contains information on what to do in the event of a flood. The website can be found using the following link, – Environment Agency Flood Risk Information

Whilst it can be a very useful resource, it is important to understand the limitations of the information provided by the environment agency. It gives generic information based on the post code of a property and does not take into account the topography of the site. A post code area can cover many properties with different levels of risk.

The information provided is not always the most up to date and where there are flood defences in place it assumes that these will be effective. Recent experience has show that in fact defences are deficient in some areas.

Making Enquiries of the Seller

As well as checking with the environment agency website, enquiries should be made of the seller. To ensure that the replies are binding on the seller they should be made via your conveyancer but you should specifically request that they are made since not all lawyers will make them automatically.

The seller should be asked to confirm whether the property has, to his knowledge and either before or during his ownership, suffered from flooding in the past and if so to confirm full details. The seller should be asked whether a claim was made on his buildings insurance and what effect, if any, this had on insurance premiums.

If the property has suffered from flooding in the past then full details should be provided to the insurer when arranging buildings insurance. This may lead to a higher premium but failure to disclose, and to take any preventative steps recommended by the insurer, could lead to a claim for flood damage being rejected in future.

Consider Instructing a Flood Risk Assessment

If, having checked with the Environment Agency and made enquiries of the sellers, you are concerned about the risk of flooding but you still want to proceed with purchase you should consider instructing a flood risk assessment.

This is a site specific study of the property and should give you as close to a definitive answer as it is possible to get in these changing times.

It should also be borne in mind that before obtaining planning permission new developments have carry out a flood risk assessment for the site where the property is in a flood plain. It is worth checking with the council therefore whether such an assessment was carried out before planning permission was granted and if so whether you are able to obtain a copy. If an assessment was carried out, and if it contained any recommendations for flood prevention measures, you should check whether they were complied with.

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