New year cheer or flooding fear

Last month, hundreds of people had to be evacuated from their homes in an affluent part of North London after a burst water main caused severe flooding.

Incidents such as this, which are completely beyond the control of any homeowner, landlord or tenant, are devastating for all involved and highlight just how important it is to have sufficient insurance protection.

As well as the upheaval of having to vacate the property and inevitable damage to belongings, water has the ability to severely damage structural elements of a property, often deeming the home unstable or completely uninhabitable. Many homeowners in Islington are now facing thousands of pounds worth of damage, with some unable to return to their properties for months.

Total Landlord Insurance has been directly involved with cases from the Islington flood. One unfortunate landlord was still in the process of making a claim for storm damage that occurred in the summer, when her property was affected by the Islington flood.

In June 2016, heavy rain fall caused damage to the wooden floors, floorboards and joists of her basement bedroom. The drainage system could not cope with the excessive amount of water in such a short space of time, causing it to back up into the landlord’s property. As the drains are shared, the responsibility of the drains belongs to Thames Water.

Just as we authorised the resultant damage works to be carried out to the amount of £1,088.29, the landlord called to advise there had been a burst water main. This time, it had completely flooded her basement property with water up to the ceiling, and the fire brigade had to be called to help pump the water out. The current reserve for this is £100,000 and a loss adjuster has been appointed.

Whilst dealing with the second claim, we have paid the landlord for the work carried out in relation to the first claim. The landlord cannot be penalised for the damage which has occurred straight after the repairs for the first claim. Even though this property would not appear ‘high risk’, as it is not situated near high volumes of water such as a river or the coast, it is a perfect example of a property that requires additional protection in order to be adequately covered.

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Last winter, floods which devastated parts of Britain were the worst since records began more than 100 years ago. Although there is often little that can be done to prevent damage from mother nature, as we approach that ‘high risk’ time of year where the flood warnings come thick and fast, it’s advised to be as prepared as possible. This is particularly important for landlords, who are often unsure of their responsibilities following flood damage or how to make changes to their property to prevent severe damage happening again in the future.

Our Brand Ambassador Paul Shamplina, advises: “In the unfortunate event that severe flood damage has been caused, and several months are required to complete repairs, it is often necessary to refer to the terms of the tenancy agreement. This should help to establish whether the tenancy terminates or not, and whether the landlord is responsible for helping to source alternative accommodation.”

As with the Islington case highlighted above, a property doesn’t need to be near water to be at risk. Flooding can occur as a result of surface water following torrential rain, sewer flooding, burst water mains or a river bursting its banks, to name but a few.

For landlords concerned about their property, there are now several improvements that can be made to help prevent severe damage, says Mr Shamplina. “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, if it helps to reduce insurance premiums and prevent future flood damage, it will be money well spent. There are now companies which specialise solely in helping to make properties more flood resistant. Such measures include the installation of special windows and doors, water resistant floors and insulation, and pump and sump systems, which pump out water entering the house from the ground.”

Find out if your property is at risk by inputting your postcode on the Environment Agency’s Flood Map.

Find out more about comprehensive landlord insurance which will cover against flood damage and loss of rent or cost of alternative accommodation.