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Flooding Spells Trouble For PRS Landlords

Flooding Spells Trouble For PRS Landlords

Post Flood Checks for PRS Landlords
Of Properties Affected By Flooding

The recent flooding observed in the South of England this winter have seen a large number of landlords and home owners properties damaged by flood water with around 6,500 properties damaged by flood water since December 2013.

This has meant that both landlords and tenants have had to put in a great deal of time and effort to put things right, with landlords spending a substantial amount of time contacting their landlord insurance providers to inform them of the situation and trying to arrange repairs.

However, there are some landlords who remain unsure of where to start when it comes to flood damage, so we take a look at what landlords can do if property has been affected by flooding:

  • Wear waterproof clothing, boots and a face mask
  • Get a qualified person to switch off electricity at mains – don’t touch sources of electricity while standing in water
  • Remove water using pump and generator – position generator outside as it produces carbon monoxide fumes which can kill
  • Only pump out water when flood levels outside house start to be lower than inside – this reduces the risk of structural damage
  • Houses can be cleaned and disinfected using ordinary household products
  • If drying property naturally, keep doors and windows open, if using dehumidifiers, close external doors and windows

Severe Flood Damage

Unfortunately, if you own property in the South of England there is a good chance they have been severely affected by flooding, especially if they are located near the Somerset levels or by the River Severn or River Thames.

The Environment Agency (EA) issued 16 severe flood warnings (meaning severe flooding with a danger to life) and 76 flood warnings (meaning immediate action should be taken) in January 2014 for the South West and South East of England.

If your rental properties have been affected by severe flooding then there is the likelihood that the tenants will have already been evacuated.

UK PRS landlords may find that they have to foot the bill to re-house tenants while their property is unfit to live in, and even after the flood waters have receded and it could still take months for damage to be repaired.

It is important for landlords to keep in constant contact with their landlord insurance provider and their tenants in order to make sure the restoration process runs as smoothly as possible.

Traditional brick or concrete walls will generally dry out well so long as they are clear for ventilation.

Wall cavities need to be inspected by an expert to ensure walls are secure and any damaged wall-cavity insulation will also need to be removed.

Internal walls, damaged plaster, plasterboard and wallpaper will have to go. Holes might also need to be drilled through plasterboards or dry linings to drain trapped water and aid ventilation, and timber partitions may rot if not dried properly and property owners are advised not to redecorate for at least three months after walls have dried and repairs have been done.

Modern wiring can withstand a short period of flooding, but if a property has been flooded for more than a few hours, it will probably need rewiring – downstairs at least. An electrician will also need to give junction boxes, socket outlets, light switches and ceiling connections a thorough check to ensure there is no water trapped inside them.

Moderate Flood Damage

Properties have been affected across the whole of the UK, even though properties worst affected by flooding are mainly in the South West and South East of England. Many of these properties are still habitable, however there are a number of other issues that landlords have to deal with.

Flooding can destroy the fabric and structure of property if left and it’s hard to be sure how solid a property’s foundations are after flooding, as some problems may take years to materialise.

There can be subsidence – which causes foundations to “sink”, and heave – which forces foundations upwards. Subsidence occurs when the ground under a building “shrinks” through lack of water, whereas heave occurs when the ground expands because of excess water. There is also the possibility of sinkholes and signs to watch out for are cracks and general movement in the building, but both can often remain undetected for some time.

Other indicators of structural damage include buckling of walls, bulging or dislodged sections of property and new cracks above windows or doors

Tenants will often get in contact immediately if they feel that their property is affected by flood water, and landlords should try to get as much information as possible about the amount of damaged caused.

Small amounts of water in rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms are less disastrous than in carpeted areas such as bedrooms or living rooms, and if it is safe to do so you can advise your tenants on how to contain flood water.

Landlords should keep in regular contact with tenants in the worst hit areas to monitor the situation and make preparations to re-home them if necessary.

Minimal Flood Damage

Rental properties built on high ground, away from lakes and rivers, will probably be unaffected by flooding. However, with the high winds and increased rainfall over the past few months there is still a danger of damage, so landlords need to make sure that basic checks are carried out to assess the damage when they are able to.

Roof tiles, chimney stacks, gutters soffits, and window frames can be adversely affected by strong winds and continuous heavy rainfall. If left in unchecked these minor issues can become major problems in the future.

Tenants may have noticed small leaks in garages and lofts during heavy rainfall, which should be treated as warning signs.

Unfortunately, nearly every landlord across the UK right now needs to have some sort of plan in place in case their properties are affected by flooding; otherwise they could find themselves in a difficult situation.

The Environment Agency website is updated on a regular basis with information concerning flood warnings and what to do in an emergency.

The new “Flood Re” proposals intended to replace the current statutes of the Water Bill will leave landlords high and dry as insurance companies withdraw insurance for rental properties in areas prone to flooding.

More Severe Weather Warnings For UK Property Owners

More Severe Weather Warnings For UK Property Owners

Landlords Urged To Ensure Insurance Is Up To Date Before Severe Weather Hits Again

There was more bad news for property owners and landlords this week as the UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) has issued further severe weather warnings for the week ahead, bringing more misery for landlords and property owners in the South of England already seriously affected by flooding.

Met office staff have predicted a “Valentine’s Day Massacre” as the UK prepares to be battered by 80mph winds and more torrential rain on Friday 14th February, however there will be much more rain before then, with a slightly weaker weather front expected earlier in the week (Tuesday 11th – Wednesday 12th February).

Government departments, local authorities and agencies are working together to do everything they can to help communities at risk, but landlords are urged to check that they are adequately covered by specialist landlord insurance policies.

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Flood Insurance Plan Leaves Rental Properties Unprotected

Flood Insurance Plan Leaves Rental Properties Unprotected

New Flood Insurance Plan Leaves Private Rental Sector Properties Unprotected

The ill timed Government announcement over the changes to flood insurance does little to reassure property owners and landlords about flood insurance price rises as huge swathes of the country remain flooded after the winter storms.

The Government has finally reached a deal with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to replace the ‘Statement of Principles’ agreement of the Water Bill, that was originally due to expire on 31st July 2013, under which insurers offered affordable flood insurance coverage to a majority of households in return for the Government maintaining spending on UK flood defences.

The British Property Federation (BPF) reported that an alliance of property industry leaders and the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) had huge concerns about the new plan, called Flood Re.

A number of organisations have already called for urgent amendments to the Water Bill, after it emerged that a significant number of properties that had been expected to be included within Flood Re, would instead be excluded.

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Landlords and Property Owners Urged To Be On Flood Alert

Landlords and Property Owners Urged To Be On Flood Alert

Dont Be Complacent About Flood Risks

There has been a great deal of increased flooding across many parts of the UK in recent years and this has lead to an ongoing stand-off between the current coalition Government and the Association Of British Insurers (ABI) regarding flood insurance.

Private rental sector (PRS) landlords and private residential homeowners need to be more alert to the flood risks posed by rivers and an over-stressed sewerage system, and they should have adequate buildings and contents insurance in place to protect their property assets and personal possessions from flood damage.

However, a significant cause of property flooding appears to have been ignored…

Sewer flooding occurs when a main sewage system’s capacity is inadequate and strained due to flash flooding, collapsing drains or as a result of blockages caused by the inappropriate disposal of everyday waste, most notably toiletries and kitchen waste. As a result, surcharging sewers can occur at manholes or even within properties, through the unpleasant scenario of back flowing toilets.

Mark Taylor, Environmental Consultant at risk management consultancy, Argyll Environmental said: “Sewer flooding doesn’t typically attract the media attention evident in press coverage of washed out homes across the country earlier this year but its impact can be equally devastating to property owners.”

Typical damage caused by overwhelmed sewers include land and properties being flooded with water contaminated with raw sewage, an issue that alongside being horrific to clean up poses significant health concerns.

While many insurance companies will typically cover the cost of any flood damage and the clean-up, there are also preventative measures that can be taken by all property owners to reduce the risk of internal flooding.

Landlords and private residential home owners living in older properties in areas with antiquated sewer systems which combine both foul and storm water should consider taking preventative action.

To alleviate the risk of sewer flooding to properties, non-return valves can be fitted to sewage pipes. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to fit.

Non-return valves eliminate the backflow that cause up to 50% of all flood damage and also prevent other unwanted visitors such as rats from entering property from the sewers.

Equally, effective are watertight UPVC doors. Alongside reducing the risk of water and waste entering the property through external flooding, these are easy to clean and maintain, reducing the scale of damage if a flood occurs.

It is the responsibility of landlords, home owners, property investors and developers to find out who exactly is responsible for maintaining the sewage and drainage systems surrounding their properties and that adequate insurance is in place for sewers that are located within a property’s boundary.

Don’t Run the risk – Check Your Insurance Now!

 

The British Property Federation (BPF) handed a bit of good news to UK landlords who may have been struggling to make ends meet, after it was revealed that the UK coalition government may review imposing powers forcing landlords to share information on changes of tenancy with water companies, as well as making them liable for a defaulting tenant’s debts.

The failure of tenants to pay water bills for the property they are renting costs landlords and other home owning customers around £15 extra per year.

The new Flood and Water Management Act would mean that the government could make landlords and property owners pay water and sewerage bills if specified details of tenant occupiers are not forwarded to the relevant utility company departments.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, explained: “Government policy in other areas is pushing for personal responsibility and the same should apply here that landlords should not be held liable for their tenants’ debts, which is simply unfair. We therefore welcome this review and agree that water companies could do more to limit bad debts. Landlords already provide a lot of information voluntarily, though this could be much easier and transparent with the right systems in place”.

Legal 4 Landlords advise all UK landlords to inform all utility companies (Gas, Electricity and Water) at the start and end of every tenancy as normal practice for all tenancies.

Home insurers and the UK’s coalition Government are still arguing over paying for flood protection, meaning Millions of homeowners and Buy-To-Let Landlords are facing uncertainty over house prices, mortgage availability and the validity of their insurance policies.

Buy-To-Let Property Owners In Flood Risk Areas Fear Worst

UK Landlords With BTL Property In Flood Risk Areas Fear Worst

If the UK Government fails to meet the demands of insurers to reinstate flood protection cuts then insurance cover for millions of homes, including buy to let rental properties, could be withdrawn from June this year.

Although insurers pledged to offer insurance premiums for properties at risk of flooding, it was on the proviso that the UK government would invest money in flood defence protection.

The agreement is set to run out on July 1st 2013, but Millions of pounds have already been cut from flood defence budgets earmarked for improving sea walls and river banks.

Insurance policies starting at the end of June 2012 could be withdrawn for properties in high flood risk areas if an agreement isn’t reached, as the policies would be in force after the date the current agreement ends.

Flood defence protection is a priority for all residents living near to waterways, lakes and rivers, many people in flood-prone areas now have the added worry that their properties may be difficult or even impossible to insure later this year.

Some insurers are already warning that property owners in high flood risk areas, might not be able to renew their cover after the end of June this year, because their new insurance policy will extend beyond the 1st July 2013 agreement cut off date.

Not being able to obtain insurance cover will blight property values in many areas, as mortgage lenders may not offer funding and in many cases the properties will be very difficult to sell on.

Many home owners and buy-to-let landlords could also risk breaching stringent mortgage conditions that require them to have buildings insurance in place for the life of their mortgage loan.

Business Development Director for SearchFlow, Richard Hinton, said “Buyers will be able to obtain flood insurance for the next few months, but the long-term prospects of properties at risk of flooding are potentially bleak. Buyers purchasing in high-risk flood areas face the possibility of very high premiums, significant reductions in value, less access to mortgage finance and even action taken by the mortgage lender due to breach of the mortgage agreements.”

Check if you have a property at risk by going to the Environment Agency flood pages

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