The recent spate of storms has increased everyone’s awareness of the danger that flooding can present to properties throughout Britain. Properties everywhere, not just near to rivers and waterways, have been affected by the unprecedented weather condition of the past few weeks and comments from government have made it clear that not everyone will benefit from expenditure on flood defences.
It is essential that firms dealing with property related issues – in particular conveyancing – are aware of the implications to clients of all environmental factors and that those clients are advised of the need for adequate searches and checks in all cases where flooding, land contamination, subsidence, landslides, radon gas and all of the other potential hazards could arise.
So far as the risk of floods is concerned, the Law Society practice notes makes it clear that a substantial number of properties in Britain are at risk. It quotes the Environment Agency which estimates that 5.2 million homes and businesses in England are at risk from flooding with 2.4m at risk from flooding from rivers or the sea, 3m are at risk from surface water and 1m at risk from both. Moreover, the Environment Agency warns, things will get worse as climate change continues.
All solicitors involved in property-related work are advised to read both of these Practice Notes and to heed the recommendations in them.
Additional information on flooding can also be found on the Gov.UK website. “Find out if you are at risk from flooding in England” is a good starting point for everyone and provides information on
- the immediate risk of flooding – for which check current flood warnings and river and sea levels;
- the risk of flooding in the next 5 days; and
- whether a property is in an area that’s likely to flood in the future by checking long term risk of flooding and viewing an area’s flood maps.