After the floods...
Local property owners to re-live flood horror
Local property owners in, for example, Aylesbury, Thame, and Weston Turville - areas that were hardest hit by the recent floods - are being reminded that they will have to re-live the experience when they come to sell.
Conversely for recent buyers who were not clearly informed or aware of the risk of flooding to their new home, then the courts may be the next stop.
Sarah Plumridge, partner and property solicitor at Parrott & Coales LLP , said: “Anyone buying or selling needs to be careful about investigations and responses when it comes to flooding. It's important that property owners do not avoid answering questions about any flooding in the pre-contract stage otherwise compensation issues may arise if the answers were untrue or fraudulent.”
Most property transactions use the Law Society’s pre-contract property information form to collect information from a seller, which nowadays includes specific questions about whether any part of the property has ever been flooded. Where any flooding is reported, the seller has to explain what caused it, such as ground water or a river breaching its banks.
And sellers who have given false answers to pre-contract questions have found themselves facing the consequences. In a case that went to the High Court in 1983, Jones v Emerton-Court, the seller of a house in Devon said there had never been any flooding to the property, but when this was proved to be untrue, the court awarded the buyer damages to cover a reduced value for the property as well as compensation for inconvenience.
Others involved in the purchase route may also have a responsibility to a buyer. A surveyor could be potentially liable if they could have reasonably identified any potential for flooding at the property when asked to undertake a full building survey. Similarly, the conveyancing process should include relevant searches and additional pre-contract questions, with the buyer kept informed, if an area is known to be at risk of flooding.
Sarah recommends that a flooding search is carried out and this provides valuable information on whether there is an overall flooding risk to a site.
Purchasers should also check with insurance companies and obtain building insurance prior to exchange of contracts to unearth any huge premiums there may be incurred due to potential flooding risk.