Law Society circulates new flood risk practice note to solicitors

Wed 29 May 2013 by Lorraine Imhoff

Written by Lorraine Imhoff

It is reckoned that more that 15% of homes in the UK carry a risk of flooding.  It surprises many to hear that a property does not have to be near a body of water to be at risk.  IN fact most flooding is a result of surface water or overflowing sewers.

The fact that a property hasn’t flooded for any significant time does not mean that there is no risk.  The current owners of the property may have never experienced flooding and be unaware of flooding affecting any previous owners, yet a risk can still exist.

The Practice Note recommends that solicitors need to advise home buyer clients about any flood risk and carry out additional enquiries if necessary.

Additionally, part of the conveyancing process when acting for buyers includes the application for environmental searches that include basic flood information indicate whether the property is on a known flood plain.

If this search reveals that the property is indeed situated on a flood plain, then the solicitor should recommend a more exhaustive search such as the Homecheck Flood Report.

This far more in depth report considers a more holistic picture including whether flooding counter measures such as flood defences are in place or whether rainwater poses a risk.

Importantly the report can also report on the insurability rating of a property which is key not only for mortgage ability and resale considerations, but also as peace of mind for existing and prospective owners.

Some have criticised the Law Society’s measure as too little too late. 

Chris Taylor, speaking on behalf of the Landmark Information Group,  has stated that the note does not go far enough to guarantee that homeowners obtain comprehensive flood risk information before committing to the home purchase.

Specifically the note  states that  solicitors only need ‘mention’ the issue of flood risk to clients.  This would seem to be a little ‘wishy washy’ as it is generally felt that  solicitors are better advised for solicitors to follow a formal protocol, including specific searches where necessary, and this form part of their advice and title report  to the client.

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