Those searching for a property should be given more up-front information about the location’s flood risk, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
This suggestion arrives after a survey of more than 2,000 UK adults revealed that nine in ten people believe flood risk information should be included in material about properties for sale.
Currently, no property portals include flood risk details for the location of properties that they list, despite having data on other subjects, such as school catchment areas and the most popular newspaper in the area.
The ABI also discovered a lack of flood risk information on brochures for new build homes.
Ahead of the ABI’s Biennial Conference on Tuesday (3rd November 2015), Director of the organisation, Huw Evans, has set out three key steps to improving awareness of flood risk as part of the property buying process:
- Estate agents and online property portals should automatically provide traffic-light style information indicating the flood risk for the locations of the homes they list. This should be based on Environment Agency data, which is publicly available. Nine in ten UK adults support this idea.
- Flood risk information should be provided in the marketing material for new build homes. Research by the ABI found that none of the sales material in 50 of the highest flood risk areas in England and Wales includes any warnings about floods, despite many of these parts being hit by serious flooding in recent years.
- All solicitors and conveyancers must follow the Law Society’s guidance on conducting specific searches for flood risk and arrange an in-depth assessment by a technical expert if there is any flood risk to the property.
These proposals reflect a recommendation from the Pitt Review after the 2007 floods that people buying a property should have access to up-front flood risk information. This data would not be a specific
guide on flood risk for an individual property, but would be a good indication as to where further investigation could be necessary.
The ABI has also published a new property hunters’ guide, advising people on the steps they should take to stay informed about the flood risk to properties they are considering. Find it here: https://www.abi.org.uk/~/media/Files/Documents/Publications/Public/2015/Property/House%20hunters%20guide%20to%20flood%20risk%20information.pdf
Evans states: “Flooding can ruin a home, destroying valuable possessions and often force you to move out while repairs are made. A higher risk of flooding also tends to mean higher insurance premiums.
“With one in six homes at risk of flooding, we need to make thinking about flood risks as much part of the home buying process as school catchment areas and transport links. At the moment, information on whether a property is at risk of flooding comes too late, often when people have already invested hundreds if not thousands of pounds in the conveyancing process.
“That’s why we are calling for those who sell properties to include new traffic light warnings on flood risk in a property’s area. You can currently get more information about what paper your new neighbours might read than if a particular property might be at flood risk.
“These simple warnings will help people go into the home buying process with their eyes open and knowing whether further investigations are necessary.
“We now want to work with estate agents, property websites and the Environment Agency to make this happen.”1
Currently, open data is available to be used in England and Wales, but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Floods Minister Rory Stewart says: “Flooding can devastate lives, homes and businesses. That’s why we are investing in flood protection at record levels, with an unprecedented six-year commitment of £2.3 billion to better protect an additional 300,000 homes by 2021.
“It is important that everyone has access to the right information, including the flood risk in their area, so they can make fully informed decisions when buying a home.
“We are making more data and technology available to help people plan and prepare for potential floods, such as the Environment Agency’s free Flood Warnings Service and our advanced flood mapping and forecasting.”1
Would you like to know more about flood risks in the location you’re thinking of buying in?