Water, water everywhere

The clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in. When will the winter weather begin? Are we going to see a repeat of last December’s storms that brought such devastation and flooding to Carlisle and other parts of the northwest?

Flooding can take many forms and the risk of flooding may not always be obvious as the property may not be close to a river or it may be on high ground. The most common types of flooding are:

• Surface water flooding: when the drainage capacity of the area is overwhelmed;
• Sewer flooding: when the sewers are overwhelmed by rain fall or become blocked;
• Ground water flooding: when underground water levels rise above surface level;
• River flooding: when a water course cannot cope with water draining in to it;
• Coastal flooding: results from a combination of high tides, low lying land and, on occasions, stormy conditions.

Aside from the physical damage caused by floods, if a property is at risk of flooding it may be difficult to:

• Obtain a mortgage;
• Obtain suitable insurance cover; or
• Sell the property

and this is likely to affect its value.

If your property is at high risk of flooding the Memorandum of Understanding agreed by the Government and the Association of British Insurers to develop a not-for-profit flood insurance scheme, known as Flood Re which launched in April of this year, might ensure that you can obtain affordable flood insurance.

It does not cover every property and to be eligible it must meet 8 criteria including being built before 1st January 2009, being used for private residential purposes and being lived in by the insurance policy holder or their immediate family.

So where does this leave you if you want to invest in buy to let properties – are you still eligible for Flood Re to give you affordable flood insurance? It depends.

New builds are excluded as are flats in leasehold blocks containing 4 or more homes.

There is a further risk with leasehold properties – even if the landlord insures, if flood becomes an uninsured risk, you may be liable to make good any flood damage and rent may not be suspended, depending on the wording of the lease.

For advice on all areas of buying buy to let or leasehold properties please contact the conveyancing team by telephone 0116 262 8596