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Rise and fall: Risk of Flooding

21st February, 2020

With recent reports in the media about Antarctica’s Thwaites “Doomsday” glacier melting quicker than expected it seems that sea levels are set to rise.

Closer to home, last year, we’ve had record breaking rain-fall with residents in Whaley Bridge (Peak District) having to evacuate their homes because their local dam threatening to burst. The risks of flooding and coastal erosion are growing due to climate change and the continued increase of the world’s population.

What’s the risk?

The Environment Agency has reported that 1 in 6 UK homes/businesses are at risk of flooding. People and their businesses need to be aware how and when flooding will affect the use, sale and letting of their properties:

Insurance
  • High costs premiums or large excess costs are common.
  • Some insurers won’t provide cover in some areas.
  • Not all property owners can “take a commercial view” and self-insure because of borrowing/mortgage obligations (i.e. insurance is needed).
Financial Borrowing
  • Banks and lenders will refuse to lend against a property they don’t think they can sell in the event of default
  • Lenders can charge higher repayments in view of their perceived risk of flood damage to their security.
Flood Damage

 

  • The average cost of building repairs after a flood event is £28,000
  • Water will damage stock, machinery and vehicles.
  • Flood waters close off roads and rail disrupting access and supply lines.
  • There will be temporary and/or permanent accommodation or relocation costs
Planning & Development costs

 

  • Flooding risk can cause Local Authorities to add planning conditions that can lead to extra cost and time delays. E.g. obligations to provide flood risk/impact assessments on the area, raising the height of building foundations or reducing the number of houses/units or size of a development
  • There are separate planning regimes and regulations in England and Wales with different thresholds and tolerances to flood risk.
Health
  • Flood waters mix with sewage and other pollutants on the land leading to the spread of illness and disease.
  • Dealing with flood risk and the aftermath can cause stress and anxiety.

 

Forewarned is forearmed (Enquiries & Searches)

Asking a prospective seller or landlord for further details of historic flooding is a good start. If they are not forthcoming asking a neighbour is a good idea too.

Its standard practice in property transactions to obtain a flood risk search report. The report uses data from land, weather, environmental and insurance agencies to provide a risk assessment from all four main types of flooding (river, coastal, groundwater and surface water).

The risk of flooding doesn’t stand still and can flow up as well as down. Adjustments to land upstream will be felt downstream. Changes to land use and development over time can affect the risk. E.g. changes to flood defences displace water to other areas. Building homes and roads on farm land causes water to move into drains and rivers at a faster rate.

There is a risk! – Don’t panic!

Just because there is a risk of flooding doesn’t mean a property deal is swept away. Thought needs to be given to the level of risk involved. If it’s low, parties (including insurers and banks) will agree to press on. If the risk of flooding is high, prospective purchasers and tenants could consider:

The Price

 

Agreeing a lower price, premium or lease rent will help to provide cover. The funds saved could be used on improving protections or paying improved (higher) insurance policy costs and excesses
Optimal use

 

Review and change the use the Property to reduce risks. Can electrical equipment and papers be kept upstairs, away from potential flood waters? Can valuable belongings or stock be made easy to move to be kept high and dry?
Property protection measures

 

Can any additions or alterations be made to the Property to manage flood risk? A prospective purchaser or tenant may ask that works are undertaken before they go further. These fall into two camps:

1) Flood resistance – measures that stop or slow water ingress. E.g. barriers on doors and windows or tanking the external walls; or

2) Flood resilience – measures to limit flood damage and improve repair/recovery after a flood. E.g. using water resistant plaster, swapping wooden floors and panelling with plastic/concrete composites and mounting electric fittings higher up walls.

Risk Assessment

 

How will flooding affect you? After a flood what do you need to do to get back on your feet? What support or items will you need after a flood? Where are you going to get these from?
Local support

 

Are there any plans from the Local Council, Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales to make improvements to flood defences nearby? Will they help protect your property? When will the changes be made?
Joseph Fletcher-Hunt

Real Estate

Solicitor
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01244 405 526

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