Think about Flood Risk when buying a property

We wouldn’t be British if the subject of the weather didn’t feature in daily conversation and you may have noticed that we have had a particularly wet summer this year. Wellies have been the footwear of choice at music festivals, no-one has been able to go anywhere without an umbrella, and sporting events from school sports day to Silverstone have all had their fair share of interruption. More seriously though, there have also been incidents of flooding around the country and it is becoming more and more important for home owners to assess the risk of the potential for flooding in their neighbourhood.

Flooding is an issue that a buyer should consider carefully before purchasing a property. A flood search can be undertaken by your solicitor and this usually comes back with information from data held in records by the search provider and usually gives a low, moderate or high risk of flooding assessment.

There is currently an arrangement in place which ensures that insurers are obliged to offer cover to all property owners, regardless of their flood risk.  However this arrangement expires in June 2013 when the current Statement of Principles adopted by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) comes to an end.

So in less than a year, insurers will no longer be obliged to offer cover to properties deemed to be at high risk of flooding. You could find insurance cover withdrawn and the property becoming uninsurable which could put you in breach of mortgage conditions and affect future value or saleability of the property. Owners of properties in moderate risk areas may see their premiums increased. Even where cover may be available, insurance companies can put additional requirements on customers as a condition of future cover for example to ensure that they have appropriate flood defences in place.

Before buying a property, speak to your solicitor about getting a flood search. It is also important to have a survey when you buy a property and take advice from your surveyor and you can also contact the Environment Agency for information.