Whether you are buying or selling a property, you may be wondering: what information needs to be disclosed about the house?
As a general rule, it is almost always advantageous to disclose as much information as possible – especially since a house seller is typically liable up to six years after the exchange of contracts.
So what about the flood history of your property? Do you need to disclose it – and how can you do this? Read on for an in-depth blog on this important topic.
What is the difference between a flood and a leak?
According to insurance companies, ‘flood damage’ is caused by events outside the property. Examples of this might include seawater coming over coastal defences, or a river bursting its banks. Significantly heavy rainfall is another example.
On the other hand, a leak is considered to come from inside the property, or from a neighbour’s house. This might include a burst pipe or a leaking appliance.
What can I do to stop my property from flooding?
There are a number of steps you can take, as a homeowner, to reduce the likelihood of your property being flooded. Some of these steps include:
- Check if you are at risk of flooding
- Sign up for free flood warnings
- Prepare a flood plan
- Purchase flood protection equipment
There is equipment which you can purchase to make your property less vulnerable to flooding. First of all, you can install flood protection products, which might include floodboards (can be fixed to your windows and doors), plastic covers (to seal airbricks) and sandbags.
You can also consider laying tiles instead of carpets, moving electrical sockets up the wall, and fitting non-return valves. These steps are certainly worth taking if you know that you live in an area which is vulnerable to flooding.
Additional steps you can take include:
- Gathering a list of useful contact numbers (this might be your local council, utility providers and your insurance company)
- Learn how to shut off your electricity or gas supply
- Consider what you would need to move to safety in a flood
- Move your valuable belongings to a safe place
Preparation is key for making sure the impact of a potential flood is negligible.
How to find out if a property has flooded before
The easiest way to find out if a property has flooded before is by asking the seller, or the estate agent. Sellers have a duty in the UK to disclose if past floods have affected the property.
As an alternative option, you can request the flooding history of a property in England by sending the property’s address to the Environment Agency. If you do not know the postcode, you can send a map of the area – attach a file or include a link to an online map.
You should keep in mind that the Environment Agency does not have flood records for all properties in England, and subsequently may not have data for your property. In this case, you may be able to try your lead local flood authority or the Internal Drainage Board in your area.
Does a past flood affect my property’s value?
A study by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors found that flooding can have a negative impact on a property’s value. The percentage it reduces the property’s price by will vary, depending on how severe the flooding was, and how long ago it took place.
The study also found that the house value typically recovered three years after the flood taking place.
When you are selling a house, it is crucial that you are completely clear about the property’s flooding history. Even if you are concerned that this may impact the value of your house, it is still for the best, because the new buyer can sue you if you do not share the property’s flood history with them.
Why is it important to disclose a property’s flood history?
It is extremely important for a property seller to disclose the flood history of their house. This is because you are liable (as a house seller) for up to six years after the sale of your property. If you do not make the property’s flood history clear, and the new buyer finds an issue which they are unhappy with, then they can sue you for not disclosing this information.
You can disclose the flood history of your property in the Property Information Form (TA6).
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