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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.

A leading mortgage lender has stated that on average UK residential property values are now 1.5% lower than a year ago. 

Average property prices in the UK slipped to £165,738 (GBP) down by 0.6% in June this year, compared with May 2012.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide Chief Economist, said: “The slightly weaker trend we’ve observed since March is unsurprising, given the difficult economic backdrop, with the UK economy dipping back into recession at the start of the year and few signs of a near-term rebound. Part of the weakness in property prices may also relate to the ending of the Stamp Duty holiday in March. However, the outlook for UK house prices remains highly uncertain.”

The perceived drop in property values is good news for property investors who negotiate directly with distressed property vendors, allowing them to ease the property owners financial burdens without breaking the bank.

Nationwide also estimate that over 200,000 First-Time Buyers (FTBs) saved around £1,800 each reaping maximum benefit from the Stamp Duty break. 

Popular property portal – Rightmove reckon first-time buyers are ‘surprisingly’ upbeat and that there are now more prospective first-time buyers than at any time over the last three years, with almost three in ten people expecting to buy property in the next 12 months.

However, the biggest concern for 33% is about raising a deposit, although this proportion is down from 42% a year ago.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: “The results come as a welcome surprise, and hopefully, this three-year high in intending first-time buyers will come to fruition. It seems that some five years into the property market downturn, more people are beginning to get their heads and wallets around the new rules of first-time home ownership, though they still face some testing challenges.”

UK Residential Property Prices Slip Again

UK Residential Property Prices Slip Again

New research by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has revealed that the revival of the UK residential property market has apparently run out of steam following the end of the stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers in March this year.

The RICS report found that 19% more chartered surveyors observed residential property price decreases than increases in April 2012 and 17% of them predicted further slippage of UK residential property prices in the near future.

6% of chartered surveyors also reported a drop in residential property sales as opposed to a rise, the first time this has happened since September 2011.

Peter Bolton King, Housing spokesman for RICS, stated that the results of the research are far from surprising: “With the recent surge in activity brought on by March’s stamp duty holiday coming to an end, it is unsurprising to see that prices across much of the country are continuing to fall”.

Many of the negative forecasts for UK residential property in the near future are based on the fact that many of property sales would ordinarily have happened throughout the year, but the scramble to push through deals and invest in property before the end of the stamp duty holiday in March has seriously affected the annual pattern of residential property sales.

With UK residential property prices on the slide once again it is time for property investors to keep the market afloat whilst snapping up property bargains across the country. Wales and the West Midlands have experience the largest drops in residential property values, so these areas could see heavy interest from investors.

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