The Met Office has confirmed that last month was the wettest February on record in the UK. Storm Jorge was the third storm to bring misery during the month of February, as homes were evacuated in Ironbridge, Shropshire, and in Bewdley, Worcester when flood defences gave way.
The recent events have fuelled debates about building on floodplains, with the Labour Party calling for an immediate end to the building of houses on land at high risk of flooding.
The latest floods are a reminder that all parts of the UK are susceptible to natural hazards, and being unprepared can result in serious repercussions.
Severe floods can happen unexpectedly. It is not just heavy rainfall that causes floods – for example, when a water main suddenly burst in North London last year, it caused severe flooding in the area resulting in a number of people being evacuated from their homes.
Incidents such as this, where properties are seriously damaged and people are unable to access their homes, show just how unpredictable and devastating floods can be for homeowners, landlords, and tenants. They also highlight how important it is to have a comprehensive insurance policy in place.
As well as causing damage to the interior and exterior of a property, the integral structure, and people’s possessions and furniture, floods can also damage the electrical elements of a property, which often leaves them unsafe or uninhabitable. When this happens to a private rented property, tenants can be left unable to return to their homes for months, and landlords can be left out of pocket.
Founder of Landlord Action and Brand Ambassador at Hamilton Fraser, Paul Shamplina, comments: “Landlords with high risk properties should consider investing in home improvements as well as increasing their insurance protection. Even though the initial outlay may seem expensive, in the event of a severe flood, it will be money well spent.”
Melissa Choules , Senior Claims Technician at Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance, said, “Flooding can cause devastating damage to a property, and in some instances render it inhabitable for a significant period of time. It is important that landlords keep their property in a good state of repair and ensure that there are adequate measures in place to protect their tenants, and their assets, in the event of a flood or other severe weather.
Luckily, there are a number of steps that landlords can take to reduce the likelihood of water damage in their property, such as fitting waterproof air brick covers and supplying tenants with sandbags in high risk areas. As a landlord, having a comprehensive landlord insurance policy is also especially important to help provide peace of mind should, despite your best efforts, the worst happen.”
Here are some tips to make your property more flood resistant:
- Buy temporary seals for external doors and ‘air bricks’
- Install one-way valves on toilets and drainage to reduce the risk of sewage overflowing into the house
- Install a sump pump system to pump water out from below floor level
- Use waterproof ceramic or stone instead of wooden flooring
- Raise the height of electrical sockets
- Replace wooden window frames with UPVC
- Install ‘check valves’ in your plumbing to prevent water from backing up into the property
- Waterproof or varnished doors and skirting boards are less likely to need replacing in the event of a flood
- Provide tenants with a supply of sandbags to help prevent water from entering the property through the front or back door
Hamilton Fraser’s guide, How to protect your property from severe winter weather, offers lots more advice to help landlords prepare for heavy rainfall and floods. In our previous LandlordZONE article, Flooding – both a landlord’s and a tenant’s nightmare we explore the landlord’s and tenant’s responsibilities when it comes to floods.