What should I do if I want to sell a home with historic flooding?

If you're selling a home that has flooded in the past, how much detail do you need to give to potential buyers? What can you do to reduce the impact of the historic flooding on your sale?

Flooded house

What counts as a ‘flood’?

From an insurance point of view, if external water enters your home, it is classed as flooding. The cause of a flood could be anything from a river overtopping its' banks, to surface water from heavy rain or burst water main.

If the source of the water internal, such as a leaky pipe, this is categorised as ‘an escape of water’ i.e. not a flood. A leaking roof would also fall into this category.

Do I have to mention historic flooding?

At the start of the sale conveyancing process, your solicitor will send you a Property Information Form (TA6) to complete.

The form provides the buyer with detailed information about the property you are selling. As soon as you have completed the form, your solicitor will forward it to the buyer's solicitor.

The TA6 will form part of the legal contract of sale of your property. The new owner would have legal recourse against you if you were to withhold or misrepresent any information on this form.

Specifically, the TA6 form asks:

'Has any part of the property (whether buildings or surrounding garden or land) ever been flooded?
If Yes, please state when the flooding occurred and identify the parts that flooded: ....'

You must answer this question honestly and provide any further detail.

The historic flooding, along with any known flood risk, will be picked up on the Environmental Search Report carried out by your buyer's solicitor. Failing to disclose any information would only serve to undermine the trust of your buyer.

You can download a specimen copy of the Law Society TA6 form here:

Give as much detail as possible

You should disclose as much detail as possible about the flooding in the TA6 form. The conveyancing process is not overly focussed on the historic flood event. The risk of future flooding will be the key concern.

The TA6 also gives you the opportunity to highlight every preventative step that has been taken since your house flooded. Are there now flood defences in place? What specific flood-proofing renovations have been made in and around your house? Highlight every detail of work carried out to protect your home from flooding again.

You could also add information about the insurance status of the property. If your insurer is happy to insure against flooding, this will be a major hurdle cleared in the mind of the buyer. Add this detail and any supporting points you can to the detail section in the TA6. If there isn't room on the form. add a page and make reference to it on the form.

Why did your house flood?

There are different types of flooding, including:

  • Coastal
  • River
  • Ground water
  • Surface water
  • Sewer

Some incidences of flooding are more likely to recur than others; if your home flooded due to exceptional circumstances that are highly unlikely to be repeated - say so and explain why.

The best thing you can do is to be upfront from the start, and give as many details as you can to demonstrate the measures taken to prevent your home from flooding again.

Will your buyer pull out?

If the property has experienced historic flooding it does not necessarily mean the buyer will walk away. The risk of future flooding may be low or tolerable for your buyer. The buyer and their solicitor will be primarily focussed on the availability of affordable buildings insurance that covers the flood risk. The buyer's mortgage lender will require this insurance as a condition of lending.

Since 2013, the Government has made it easier for high flood risk properties to obtain affordable insurance against flooding with its 'Flood Re' initiative.

What is Flood Re?

Flood Re is a joint initiative between the government and the insurance industry. Should the property flood in the future, the Government, through Flood Re, will effectively underwrite the flood risk part of the policy for a fixed affordable price.

Some properties are not eligible. See the Flood Re website for more details.

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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Author:
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher