It is estimated that we need hundreds of thousands of new homes in the UK. That is a lot of building, and some of it, inevitably, will take place in areas not free of risk. And one of the biggest of those risks is flooding.
Five million at risk
According to the Environment Agency, more than five million people in England and Wales live and work in properties at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea. Throw in a worrying number of new developments being built on flood plains, and a climate that appears to be becoming more unpredictable, and the recipe is looking somewhat volatile.
The good news is that solicitors are more than aware of these considerations. As a matter of course, a conveyancer will commission an Environmental Data Search which will detail any risk of flooding. This will generally be seeking evidence of surface water flooding within 250m of the property from water courses such as rivers.
Seek anecdotal evidence
It is a data check only – as a purchaser it’s always worth seeking anecdotal evidence from those in the area. Similarly, sellers are generally required to confirm if a flooding incident has taken place and whether any insurance claims have been made. Still unsure? The Environment Agency has flood information on its website, while the Land Registry also operates a Flood Risk Indicator.
Sadly, even a lack of evidence, or 100 per cent knowledge that a property has never been inundated, is no guarantee of protection against the waters these days. One-off flood events are becoming increasingly common, while some recent winters have seen prolonged rain cause extensive flooding in areas such as Worcestershire and the Somerset Levels.
Be legally watertight
Solicitors, however, can help you reduce that risk significantly. Buying a house can never be a short-term consideration. The rain might not come this winter (or summer), but rest assured it will someday. Being prepared, and legally watertight, is an absolute must.
If you’re unsure about any aspect of flooding and how it could impact your property purchase or sale, please feel free to call the team on 0800 652 3737.