Flooding has dominated the headlines this winter, with some very terrifying images being broadcasted across the UK. Not only is flooding becoming more common, it seems to be getting worse, having devastating effects in the North West and East, as well as Scotland.
This is confirmed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, who say the “The risk of flooding is growing”, and quote a scary statistic that of 28 million homes in the UK, five million are at risk.
There are twice as many properties being let than there were at the turn of the millennium, so it’s inevitable that more renters and landlords are being affected by flooding. As a landlord, you need to know if your property is at risk and what to do if it’s hit by this devastating problem.
Check whether your property is in a flood-risk area. If it is, develop an action plan that can be followed night and day so that you know how to protect yourself, your property and, your tenants, who could become homeless.
Are you at risk?
To find out if your property is at risk of flooding, head to the Environment Agency’s Flood Map, which shows all the flood-risk areas across England and Wales.
For Scotland, visit the SEPA website to check out their flood maps.
If you’re looking to buy a new property to let, especially in an unfamiliar area, use these maps to check any flooding issues beforehand. That means if you still want to go ahead with the purchase, you can make sure you’re able to properly insure the property before even making an offer.
Do bear in mind that even if a property looks like it’s safe from flooding on these maps, there are other ways it can be flooded, such as from groundwater, run-off from fields, or overflowing sewers. Burst water pipes might also cause an issue, so always have a plan and know what to do in the event of water entering the property.
What to do if your property floods
Ideally, help the tenant to limit damage by encouraging them to move as much of their stuff as possible upstairs or off the floor.
In England and Wales, tenants/you can contact your local council or Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 0345 988 1188 or 0800 80 70 60. If the flood’s caused by water pipes bursting, contact your local water supply company. In Scotland, you need to report any floods to SEPA’s Floodline by telephoning 0345 988 1188.
To prepare for the worst, you can also download a useful guide from the National Flood Forum. It has advice on keeping safe and warm, as well as watching out for things like contaminated water from sewers.
Be prepared for the worst
Forewarned is forearmed, so sign up to the flood warning system provided by the Environment Agency, which you can do for free on their Flood Warnings Direct serviceFlood Warnings Direct service. If your property is at risk, it’s worth advising your tenants to do the same. In Scotland, you can sign up via the SEPA site.
Very importantly, check you’re insured against flooding. If your existing insurance policy doesn’t cover you, you are looking for a new policy, or you haven’t considered flooding as a risk, speak to your local Your Move branch or call our specialist landlord insurance advisors on 01392 849 766^.
Check too that the tenant’s own insurance will cover their contents. You may need to remind them that you protect the property and your own items in it, but they’re responsible for insuring their own belongings. If we manage your property, we can do this for you.
Finally, it’s really worth downloading and completing this free personalised flood plan, which is provided by the government. In the plan you can record vital information, such as key contacts and key locations for utility services, the local au-thority and guidance on what to do if a flood is on its way. For example, make sure you store important personal documents, such as passports and birth/marriage certificates, in sealed plastic bags. The flood plan will also prompt you/your tenant to find out how to source sandbags to help prevent water from getting in.
Other measures you can take include providing covers for air bricks, which tenants can fit if there is imminent danger of flooding, to stop water coming in. You can also fit non-return valves on drains and pipes coming into the property. If possible, and if there’s time, household appliances can also be raised off the floor.
What to do next
At Your Move we offer four insurance products for landlords, so talk to one of our insurance advisors on 01392 849 766^ to find out how they can help protect you, your property and ensure your tenants are well looked after in the event of an emergency.
Please note for these insurance products terms and conditions apply. You will receive a full policy document upon application. This policy will set out the terms, conditions and limitations of cover provided under the plan.