It seems that barely a week goes by without reports of yet another devastating flood wreaking havoc on lives, homes and businesses across the UK. Persistent and / or heavy rainfall, rising sea levels, high tides and erratic weather conditions are combining to form a perfect storm, leading flooding in the UK to becoming more and more prevalent.  

According to information from the Environment Agency, there are currently 5.9 million properties at risk of flooding in the UK, equating to one in six homes – an increase of 400,000 properties since 2013. Put into monetary figures, the statistics are even more startling, with the effects of flooding and managing flood risk costing the UK approximately £2.2bn a year.  

The situation only looks set to become more serious with recent research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealing that sea levels look set to rise by 67cm by 2100, exposing 400 million people to dramatic coastal flooding1.  

So, to what extent are homebuyers aware of the risk that flooding could pose to their new property?  The evidence suggests that it is not currently a top priority. Although, according to Groundsure, homeowners tend to have both insurance and warning systems in place to protect themselves against fire and burglary, very few take steps to reduce the chances of their property being flooded. This is despite the fact that the average cost to rectify flood damage stands at £28,000, compared to £7,200 to fix fire damage, and £1,000 to resolve damage caused by burglary. 

This is where conveyancers can help. In these days of digitised property information, conveyancers have a wide choice of search reports at their fingertips when considering how to best identify risk for their client’s chosen property. They have a responsibility to use this information to ensure their clients are informed about the possibility of flooding, understand the potential risks and are armed with the right evidence to take steps to mitigate them ahead of the transaction. Homebuyers need to be aware that flooding can happen anywhere, even if a property is not next to the sea or a river. There are so many different types of flooding which property purchasers should be made aware of, including surface water flooding, river flooding, drain and sewer flooding, coastal flooding and flash floods. All have potential to wreak havoc on a homebuyer’s property and life.

When advising clients, conveyancers should look for a residential property search that provides a full assessment on the different types of flooding, plus information on insurability.