The Law Society is telling prospective house purchasers to probe flood risks in the light of a new practice note it has issued to conveyancers.
The latest revision to the note, released this week, is the first since 2016.
The society says there is increasing concern about flood risk for property owners as a result of climate change.
“Flood risk can be a serious issue for some homeowners. Prospective buyers need to be taking steps to investigate whether they will be able to obtain insurance cover on acceptable terms before they agree to buy a property. There are other steps they can take to obtain more information about this risk, and these are set out in this revised note” explains
Russell Hewitson, chair of the Law Society conveyancing and land law committee.
In one section of the new practice note, conveyancers acting for purchasers are told: “In all conveyancing transactions, you should in all cases consider whether or not to mention the issue of flood risk to your client and, if appropriate, make further investigations.”
The note adds: “It may not be sufficient to rely on the results of any one category of investigation. Different clients, including lenders, will have different appetites for risk.
“Before your client enters into a binding commitment to buy, lease or finance property you should consider advising them to establish the terms on which buildings insurance, including flood risk cover, is available discuss the level of risk to which the property is exposed with their building surveyor or, if necessary, a flood risk assessment consultant.”
In a statement launching the new note, the society says: “The Environment Agency estimates that at least 5.2m homes and businesses in the UK are at risk from flooding with numbers set to rise over future decades.
“This was already evidenced by the severe flooding in 2019 when the UK saw near-record levels of rain with over 2,400 properties inundated across England (while some 22,275 were protected by defences).
“Flooding can have major impacts on people’s lives and businesses, already costing the UK approximately £600m a year just to manage flood defences (without considering the economic damage caused by flooding).”
The main changes to the practice note relate to the increased prevalence of flood risk, insurance for properties, flood searches, insurance, inspections, surveys and valuations.
The new note is here but you may have to register first before accessing it.