With the UK’s weather patterns becoming more erratic with every year that passes, the risk of flooding is an ever-increasing concern for landlords with properties located in and around known flood risk areas.
Floods have a nasty habit of striking with little or no warning, which means property owners need to be on the front foot when it comes to preparing for such disasters.
The following article contains advice around what landlords can do to help protect their investment(s) during times of flooding, while keeping tenants safe, and ensuring any potential loss of income is minimised.
Planning for a flood
Being well prepared can save a lot of time, stress and money. Here are some key points to factor into your flood planning:
- Check here regularly to keep an eye on flood warnings and river levels.
- Initiate early discussions with tenants who may be affected and make plans with them based on worse case scenarios.
- Make a list of important phone numbers, including utilities providers, local tradesmen and your insurance company.
- Review your insurance policy carefully to check your level of cover and keep your details close by.
- Locate water, gas and electricity disconnection points and make tenants aware of them should they need to cut them off.
Flood damage prevention
The following practical steps can be taken to minimise the physical damage caused by flood water:
- Install flood barriers to make a watertight seal across windows and doors.
- Install air brick covers or seals to prevent water entering the property.
- Install flood skirts to protect the property at foundation level.
- Use sandbags to block entry points and to place in toilet bowls to prevent sewage overflow.
- Wrap sturdy plastic bags around the base of tables, chairs etc.
- Place furniture and appliances on pallets to keep them off the ground.
Steps to take should the property be flooded
- Contact your insurance company immediately to inform them of the situation and to clarify what they will assume responsibility for regarding the clean up operation.
- Confirm when the loss adjuster will visit the property.
- Keep a record of all damaged items and fixtures and fittings (throw nothing away).
- Take lots of photos and/or videos.
- Keep receipts for any payments made for immediate emergency repair works.
Should I appoint a professional to handle my claim?
Managing an insurance claim can be a lengthy and stressful process at the best of times, but for landlords the stress is exacerbated by a number of factors that come with the profession; namely, being busy running a business, and/or living hours away from the rental property itself.
To ease the burden of dealing with insurers and their loss adjuster, you might consider appointing a loss assessor to manage the claim on your behalf.
This service will typically cost you nothing (providing you use their team of recommended property experts) and can help speed up the process considerably.
Your responsibilities as a landlord
If your rental property is damaged by flooding, you are responsible for returning it to a habitable state.
If the damage is extensive and the tenant has to evacuate while repair works are carried out, it is down to them to find alternative accommodation – not you.
It is important to maintain a clear line of communication with your tenant before, during and after a flood, particularly regarding the amount of time it is likely to take to return the property to a habitable state.
The tenant should not be expected to pay rent while they are not living in the property. While loss of rent should be covered by your insurance policy, you should check the details to ensure you’ll be covered, and for how long.
While no one can predict the exact moment a flood will strike, with intelligent planning you can help ensure any lasting damage is kept to a minimum.
Article Courtesy of: Morgan Clark, a nationwide loss assessing firm specialising in flood and fire insurance claims management.