Real Estate

Flooding – is your property at risk? Here’s what you need to do … – The Landlord Law Blog

Flooding in CumbriaIt looks as if our governments collectively have failed to take sufficient action to guard against a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees.

Depending on what action we take going forwards, the eventual temperature rise could be anything between 1.5 and 3 degrees centigrade. Or possibly more.

This has a number of effects which are now virtually certain.

This post is on flooding, and so far as flooding is concerned, many areas are going to be affected by the following two problems

  • Flooding due to sea level rise, and
  • Flooding due to surface run off

1. Flooding due to sea level rise:

The sea level is predicted to rise by between 0.5 and 2 metres by 2100 although a higher rise cannot apparently be ruled out. This will have a catastrophic effect on many coastal regions. Already residents in the Welsh village of Fairbourne have been told that the village is likely to be uninhabitable by 2054.

2. Flooding due to surface run off

Storms will become more violent as global temperatures rise, bringing heavier rain and fiercer winds. So, where the ground is covered by impermeable paving or is baked hard, the resultant run off is likely to result in flooding.

This could happen extremely quickly and without warning. You may remember from the news in July 2021 the sudden and catastrophic flooding in the German town of Erftstadt.

We can’t avoid these things happening. All we can do is take precautionary action. So what can you do?

Find out the flood risk for your property

There are a number of useful sea level rise predictive maps available on the internet which you can use to check the probate sea level rise and resultant flooding around the world.

This map is perhaps the most useful as you can check what the sea level rise is predicted to be by various dates, for example, 2050. There is an explanatory video on using the map here.

You can click to view areas in more detail, down to street level, and I suggest you do this to check the risk for your properties.

As you can see, by 2050, large parts of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire are predicted to be underwater along with various other coastal areas and river valleys, including large parts of London and the Thames valley.

The other useful tool is the government long-term flood risk checker here. This will also show the risk of surface runoff flooding.

Consider selling properties at high risk

There is nothing we can do to stop sea level rise, and normal defence mechanisms are unlikely to be effective against the sea level rises we are likely to see.

If your property is situated in one of the areas predicted to be under water due to sea level rise by 2050, your best course of action is to sell and reinvest in an area where the risk is low (or lower – no-where is entirely risk-free).

Depending on the level of risk, you should plan to do this reasonably soon (ideally during the next five years) as if you delay, the property may lose its value, plus in coming years, it may become uninsurable.

Take precautions against surface runoff

There is probably quite a lot you can do here, although note that this won’t help with the sort of flooding which occurred in Erftstadt.

The government’s flood risk checker has useful suggestions, which include:

  • planting trees and hedges to increase water absorption
  • improving soil cover with plants to reduce water pollution and run- off

Hedges need regular trimming, which tenants may not be willing to do, but you can always arrange for a gardener to come and do this say, four times a year (make sure your rent is sufficient to cover the cost of this), or do it yourself – it will also give you an opportunity to inspect the exterior of the property. Ensure that your tenancy agreement provides for you to have access for this.

If you are thinking of paving areas, you should use permeable paving, which will allow water to filter through. Find out more about what you can do in this article from the RHS.

You may also want to invest in a few sandbags as well to abide the event.

Make sure you are covered for insurance

This means checking your policy and perhaps ringing your insurers if you are not sure.

Note that if your property is in an area which is vulnerable to flooding, you may have to pay quite a high excess if you need to make a flooding-related claim.

For more information about insurance generally, see our free insurance mini-course.

Agitate for more local preventative action

Obviously, you can only take preventative action on your own property. However, your property is more at risk from surface runoff from land you do not own.

There is much that your Local Authority can do. For example, by improving street drainage.  The government’s flood risk checker has information about who you can contact for more information in your area.

Local landowners can do much to prevent flooding by rewilding rivers and introducing beavers. Indeed beavers have been proven to prevent downstream flooding – although care needs to be taken to protect farmland.

Whether this is done or not will depend on the individual land owner, although they may be encouraged by grants and other support.

You can find out more about what is being done from the website Rewilding Britain.

And finally

You may be shocked by this article, but climate change is shocking and very worrying.

Despite what the climate deniers would have us believe, it is here, it is real and is happening. You only have to think of the flooding and fires from the summer of 2022. (By the time you read this, we may have more evidence).

No one can deal with this alone. However, everything anyone does, however small, will help. The cumulative effect of a number of small changes can be effective, although not effective enough, without government action.

So far as flooding is concerned, it behoves us all to make our properties as ready as we can, and to hope that disaster will not come our way, as it did in Germany in Erftstadt.

Picture reference.

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