Climate change is causing wetter winters and more adverse summer conditions, prompting many organisations to upgrade the risk of flooding to both commercial and residential property.
Advising clients on the potential dangers of flooding is now an imperative in most conveyancing transactions with flood searches a crucial consideration on all new build and existing properties.
The number of new homes built on land at the highest risk of flooding has more than doubled over the past decade.
Government data has indicated that 84,000 homes have been built on land that has a 1 per cent chance of flooding per year, areas the Environment Agency refer to as Flood Zone 3.
The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government data suggested that 9,500 homes were built in high-risk regions in 2013. However, by 2017/18 this figure had increased to 24,000 in 2017 and 20,000 in 2018.
Even the recent downpours have done little to dampen the appetite for house building in at-risk areas. A joint investigation by The Guardian and Greenpeace discovered planning approval for 11,410 new homes across seven areas in England considered to be at the highest risk of flooding.
The Environment Agency’s Chief Executive has recently intimated that the need for new housing to help solve the crisis may mean that building in flood affected areas is inevitable but should be considered carefully.
What the Law Society Practice note says
The Law Society has also responded to recent flooding by releasing an updated Flood risk practice note advising conveyancers to consider whether to mention flood risks in ‘all cases.’
The note suggests whether conveyancers should offer stronger guidance on the importance of completing flood searches and the impact of buying a property on flood-prone land could have on insurance premiums.
Flood reports allow all stakeholders in the home buying and selling process to access the full picture of the housing situation when it comes to potential flood damage. The note recognises that solicitors aren’t qualified to give advice on flood risk or interpret flood reports but should encourage their clients to make sure insurance can be obtained on terms acceptable to them before entering into a purchase contract.
The risk applies to both residential and also commercial properties, with many small businesses particularly at risk. Some business may assume that damage to equipment, machinery and stock as a result of a flood will be covered under their policy but this is not always the case as business found out recently.
Visit https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/advice/practice-notes/flood-risk/ to read the full note
The GlobalX portal supports conveyancers in quickly and easily accessing flood reports and other essential searches. Our in-depth flood reports, compiled by expert researchers, accurately identify risks relating to groundwater and surface water flooding in addition to river and coastal information.
Importantly, all flood reports will also detail the insurability of the highlighted property which can be an indicator of a lender’s appetite for offering loans on the property; adversely impacting future saleability and resale values.
GlobalX are proud to be a leading provider of conveyancing searches in England and Wales. Our dedicated and experienced helpdesk coupled with quick turnaround times mean that all conveyancer queries are answered in a timely manner.
Remember, changes to the climate has prompted many organisations to reappraise the importance of advising clients on the danger of flood risk. GlobalX’s comprehensive searches will ensure the buyer, surveyor and conveyancer are fully informed whilst avoiding delays.