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Floody Hell! : Be Sure to Evaluate Flood Risk Before You Buy a House

View profile for Paul Hajek
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Update: this blog has now been updated, and you can view it here.

The Sun may have finally decided to shine this week, but homebuyers will always need to be aware of the potential problems with properties in flood risk areas.

This post is the third in our series on new and amended questions in new 3rd Edition of the Law Society Property Information Form (TA6). Click for our other posts on the problems with Japanese Knotweed and Solar Panels.

What Are The New Flood Risk Questions in the TA6

The flooding questions are included in Section 7 of the TA6 under Environmental Matters.

The head note emphasises that the property does not have to be near a river or sea for flooding to occur.

The section recommends 2 websites where more information on flooding can be obtained at www.defra.gov.uk and www.environmental-agency.co.uk

Question 7.1 does not restrict the incidence of flooding to the house itself but also surrounding garden and land within the property.

Question 7.2 expands and asks what type of flooding may have occurred:

  • Ground water i.e. when heavy rainfall overwhelms the drainage capacity of an area
  • Sewer flooding i.e. sewers are overwhelmed by heavy rainfall or when they become blocked
  • Surface water i.e. when underground water levels rise above surface level. This is most likely to occur in low lying areas underlain by permeable rocks
  • Coastal flooding which results from a combination of high tides, low lying land and, sometimes, stormy conditions
  • River flooding occurs when a watercourse cannot cope with the water draining into it from the surrounding land
  • or other flooding.

Finally, Question 7.3 enquiries whether a Flood Risk Report has been prepared

Why Flood Risk May Be More Of A Problem Now When You Sell Or Buy A House?

There has always been an agreement between Government and the Insurance Industry that all properties, no matter how high the risk, can obtain flood risk insurance.

This agreement is set to end this month and details of any new arrangement are awaited.

If nothing is forthcoming, then there may be increased risk for homeowners and potential homeowners that:

  1. You may not be able to obtain a mortgage
  2. You may not obtain suitable insurance cover, or
  3.  You may not be able to sell your property at a fair price

How Your Conveyancing Solicitors Can Help You with Flood Risk

First, I should emphasise that Conveyancing Solicitors are not qualified to give advice on flood risk or interpret technical flood reports.

Local knowledge will be a great help.

There are flood risk searches through companies such as GroundSure www.groundsure.co.uk and LandMark  www.landmark.co.uk which can be commissioned as part of the overall search your Conveyancing Solicitor carries out for you in the course of your purchase.

Your Conveyancing Solicitor should be encouraging you , before exchange of contracts, to ensure that flood risk insurance can be obtained for the property on acceptable terms.

By “dipping your toe in the water” at an early stage you may help in identifying high risk property before you enter into a legally binding contract to buy.

Paul Hajek

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