Conveyancers risk claims of negligence in face of snow floods

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30 January 2013


Conveyancers need to carry out more flood searches to avoid accusations of negligence, as parts of the country face the threat of flood from melting snow.

Currently, too many conveyancers only recommend flood searches on properties that are traditionally seen as being at risk of flood – those built on floodplains or located near rivers, according to property search provider, SearchFlow.

Britain faces the risk of flooding, with much of the country having experienced up to 10cms of snow recently, as the cold weather comes to an end. January’s snow follows massive rainfall in December which left the water-table high and the ground saturated. On Tuesday, the Environment Agency said there were currently 50 flood warning across the country – with a further 180 flood alerts.

Richard Hinton, business development director of SearchFlow, said: “Conveyancers are accustomed to recommending flood searches on properties built near rivers or on flood plains. But the current threat of flood highlights that the danger can come from very different hazards – in this case saturated groundwater and thawing snow. This will affect people who haven’t traditionally had to worry about flooding.

“Conveyancers need to bear this in mind if they want to avoid accusations of negligence in the future. There is a need for much more due diligence in the worst hit areas – especially Wales.”

The situation is particularly serious in Wales. While only 11% of property transactions in Wales have included a flood search in the conveyancing searches, yesterday the Environment Agency announced flood alerts for Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen, saying flooding is expected, that residents should be prepared, remain vigilant, and take precautions where possible.

Flood alerts were also in place for Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham, Powys, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Monmouthshire, Newport, and Cardiff.

Richard Hinton said: “While 35% of property transactions in London include a flood search – as the city has clearly been built on a flood plain and is obviously under threat of flood – it’s a different story elsewhere in the country.”

Percentage of property transactions including a flood search, by region

London 35%
South West 21%
South East 20%
West Midlands 19%
East of England 18%
Yorkshire & The Humber 12%
Wales 11%
North West 10%
East Midlands 8%
North East 6%



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