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Help For Landlords As Government Sends Flooding Insurance Soaring

The Association of British Insurers has recently claimed that as many as 200,000 homes may not be covered against the risk of flooding in their insurance as of July 2013, leading to potentially costly problems when storms hit. The current flooding support agreement between home insurance companies and the government comes to an end in just over a year. With many national budget cuts to funds that would have been used to build sea walls and river banks also wreaking havoc on protective measures, homeowners and landlords wanting to rent a property privately are more at risk of flooding than ever before. 

The ABI has mapped out the areas most at risk in England and Wales with 12 areas determined to be most at risk of flooding.

When the new legislation kicks in next year this could leave private landlords liable to thousands of pounds worth of repairs should their property be affected. Landlords in the following areas are expected to be the worst affected by these changes according to the ABI flood map:
• Boston and Skegness: 7,550 homes
• Vale of Clwyd: 7,339
• Folkestone and Hythe: 7,196
• Windsor: 7,125
• Runnymede and Weybridge: 6,541
• Clwyd West: 6,160
• Aberconwy: 5,500
• Nottingham South: 5,043
• Great Yarmouth: 4,965
• Sittingbourne and Sheppey: 4,295
• Leeds central: 4,209
• Canterbury: 4,199

These areas of ‘significant risk’ are calculated to have a greater than 1 in 75 chance of being hit by flooding in any calendar year.

Flood repair can be extremely expensive, as substantial amounts of water will generally cause damage to a range of areas within the home including furnishings, floorings, electrics and even walls. Professional services such as builders, electricians and plumbers are more often than not required for repairs which means bills can mount up quickly and depending on the scale of the damage, work can take weeks to be completed giving a two-fold problem for private landlords. In some serious cases, structural damage can also be an issue and engineers and surveyors then need to be commissioned. While all of this work is going on, tenants will need to be homed elsewhere, leading to a loss of income during repair works. 

Analysts already expect many home insurance providers to raise their premiums as early as June 2012 in preparation for the cessation of government backing. For landlords renting a private property currently or planning to advertise a property online for rent in any of these areas, I Am The Agent, an online estate and letting agency, urges landlords not to cut costs by overlooking home insurance now. Many insurers will give no claims discounts and money off policy renewals which can be used to offset any premium increase. Contents and building insurance is also essential for heading off the costs of other problems and damages.

The Environment Agency also recommends homeowners and landlords in danger zones take measures to limit the damage caused by flooding. Simple measures can be implemented for a relatively small outlay which can help to minimise the repairs needed if flood water does enter the home. They include:

• Install specialist flood boards – these are purpose built for doors and help to keep flood water out, especially when coupled with a raised door threshold.

• Damp proofing bricks and sealing floors provides a barrier against flood waters rising, helping to minimise the spread of damage.

• Place air bricks over ventilation covers to prevent water seeping through.

• Drains and pipes can be fitted with non-return valves.

• Encourage tenants to place their most prized possessions including sentimental items like photos or other keepsakes on high shelving, rather than boxes under the bed or at low levels to prevent them being ruined when flood water enters the property.

• Affix TVs and stereo systems to the wall, aiming for a height of 1.5 metres above floor level.

• Use water-resistant skirting boards throughout the property or varnish wood boards to provide some measure of water repellent.

• Lay tiles where possible such as in the kitchen and bathroom, as carpets are usually the first thing to be damaged and replaced by flooding.

• Raise appliances like fridges and washers off the floor on wooden plinths.

• If your property has a basement, install a pump to extract flood water.

For busy landlords, I Am The Agent offer a fixed fee property management service. The service can ensure that anti-flooding and damage limitation measures are put in place and deal with any repairs should the worst happen.

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