The EA produce flood extent reports each year which show historic flooding events and also areas of potential flooding. These reports are then referred to by a number of different companies and organisations for reasons of insurance and mortgages among other things. However, there are a number of areas in the UK where people are starting to question these reports because not only have they never seen any flooding but they are also suffering from falling house prices as a result.
Flooding in the UK
Flooding in the UK is on the rise. You only need to looks for the number of companies working in the flood risk assessment sector like www.unda.co.uk to see the demand for flood predications and data is increasing yearly.
There have been a number of homes and streets in the 2002 and 2003 historical flood data reports done by the environment agency that were, in fact, not affected by any flooding at all. On top of this large areas in Bisham and Marlow have been included in the 2014 report. In this case a number of fields were reported as being underwater when they never were. In 2014 the EA did admit the local residents who complained about this did have a valid point. The sad fact is, however, that even with this admission the 2015 map still included these areas.
The Small Print
The reports are created using laser mapping and visual surveys and the EA have made it clear the reports show the worst case scenario. They have also agreed to amend the 2003 map but went on to say that even with no reported water in these areas the maps show a tangible risk.
So where does this leave people with homes in these areas where flooding has been incorrectly reported but the EA say there is a risk. Well, property prices will no doubt take a hit and often unfairly. There are, of course, many areas that are now at risk of flooding and residents are having to deal with higher insurance premiums and lower home values. Having this befall you when your area has never been flooded, however, does seem very harsh.
What Can Be done?
There is a formal complaint system that is offered by the Environment agency so allow people to challenge these flood reports. The downside here is that these challenges can take months and even years in some cases. By the time a challenge is finished it is a sad fact that the damage to property prices may well have already been done. The speed and pace at which people search and buy homes these days means over any 3 year period a number of surveys and mortgages will have been done and applied for and the result will filter through to the market.
Another option is to get an independent flood risk assessment. While this may come at a small personal cost it may be enough to show potential buyers and mitigate any issues about asking price. These reports can also be used during planning application and when getting insurance cover. Some people are also choosing to have a flood survey done alongside other surveys during a purchase like building surveys and even a drain surveys. With more and more at stake with ever increasing house prices, making sure the property is as risk free as possible is becoming very common.
The bottom line here is that it is worth doing some research around your property even if you have been in it for years. Get a flood risk assessment done if you have any plans to sell in the future. If you are buying a home check and research as much as possible. If you find you have been wrongly added to a flood risk area then challenge the Environment Agency but also consider the reality that flooding will only get worse and you may not see the return on your property you think you should.