House sellers could be forced to make flood risk public

Insurers call for up-front warning

The symbols proposed by the Association of British Insurers


The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is proposing that all houses for sale should be given a rating that indicates their flood risk.

It says that estate agents and property websites should provide information about flood risk up-front, using a traffic light-style mark. This would be included in the property's particulars, in the same way as Energy Performance Certificates are.

Currently, it says, information about a high flood risk is often only uncovered during property searches after the house purchase is already underway. By this time, buyers are likely to have spent hundreds of pounds on surveys and solicitors' fees, and be part of a home-buying chain.

"Property advertisements carry a wealth of information on everything from local schools to a property's energy efficiency rating," says James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI.

"Easily available information about the flood risk of the area is a glaring omission which needs to be put right."

Househunters considering a property with an amber or red symbol should be prompted to take further action, says the ABI.

This could mean paying for a full flood risk report, checking out any flood defences which are in place or due to be built, and considering installing protective measures at the property.

One in six homes in England and Wales is estimated to be at risk of flooding from either rivers and sea or surface water.

But as things stand, says the ABI, fewer than one in three people researched the flood risk at their current home before buying it. Indeed, homebuyers were more likely to have looked at the ease of parking in the area than whether those parking spaces were likely to end up underwater.

However, estate agents say there's no need for the symbols, pointing out that they are already obliged to tell buyers about any material concerns over a property, including the risk of flooding.

And, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents Mark Hayward tells the BBC, "If you see a red, you wouldn't bother to look at it. You'd say, I'm not going to visit."


The UK postcodes deemed 'high risk' by car insurers

The UK postcodes deemed 'high risk' by car insurers