Homeowners selling or letting property should produce a “Flood Performance Certificate” to show how prepared their home is for possible flooding, a think-tank has suggested.
The Social Market Foundation raised the possibility of flood certificates — modelled on Energy Performance Certificates — in research highlighting the need to help owners to do more to prepare their homes for flooding.
The research calls for a major shift in policies and attitudes to support people at risk of flooding. It was supported by the Government and industry-backed Flood Re scheme that helps to keep the costs of household flood insurance down.
The SMF, a cross-party think-tank, says that despite the frequency and personal and economic costs of flooding, only a relatively small number of households have taken action to make their property better able to endure a flood without major damage.
Flood Certificates could ensure owners who prepare their property for possible flooding can realise financial gains from that work if they sell or buy, since those with certificates showing good flood resilience could ask higher prices than those who declared lower readiness.
The EPC scheme, introduced in 2007, requires the production of a certificate that contains information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs and recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.
An EPC is now a routine part of selling or letting a property, and can be obtained by commercial assessors for less than £40. The scheme was introduced to encourage owners and tenants to be more mindful of energy use.
The SMF report, “Incentivising Household Action on Flooding”, suggests that similar certificates showing how well a property is prepared to resist the effects of flooding should be considered. The scheme would might help shift attitudes and encourage people to consider flood readiness to be a central part of homeownership.
Over the last 10 years, an average of 19,000 homes have made flood-related insurance claims.
And a large number of households would benefit from improve protection as flooding is not predictable: two thirds of the residential properties flooded in the major event in summer 2007 were not previously identified as high risk on flood maps.
The financial cost of flooding is significant: floods in Scotland and northern England following Storm Desmond in December 2015 caused to £1.3 billion of damage. The impacts of disruption and emotional distress are also much larger – many residents affected by recent flood events were forced to leave their homes for periods of months or even over a year.
The SMF noted that there are simple steps that households can take during renovation or repairs that could reduce the risks and costs of flooding and ensure that if flooding occurs they can return to their properties sooner.
Flood resistance work can include fitting special doors and air brick covers to prevent water entering a property. Resilience work such as raising electrical sockets up the wall can reduce the damage done if floodwater does enter.
But fewer than one in ten people at risk of flooding have taken action to make their property more resilient.
And even with Government grant scheme in areas that have recently been flooded, the SMF said that very few people take it up – because of lack of information, potential costs and inertia.
The proposed Flood Certificates would show:
– a property’s overall risk of flooding;
– when the property last flooded and the depth and nature of flooding;
– the likely cost of reinstatement from various potential future levels of flooding;
– any resistance and resilience measures that have been recommended by a surveyor; and
– an assessment of the extent to which these recommendations have been taken up.
The report says:
“With this information available to prospective buyers, owners would no longer be incentivised to avoid resistance / resilience measures. Instead they would face a potential boost to the capital value of their property as, rather than just looking at information about local area flood risk, prospective buyers could see the potential impact of the adaptations that have been made. This means that there are clear private gains to be made from taking on resistance / resilience measures.”
The SMF also suggested:
– changes to building regulations to increase the requirements for flood resilience measures for at-risk households;
– That Flood Re and community flood groups should take on an extended role in raising awareness of flood risks and encouraging residents to take precautions; and
– A significant extension and improvement of the existing grant scheme that is available for those households that have been flooded(1).
SMF researcher Matthew Oakley said:
“Flooding is a major issue for the UK. While it affects relatively few people each year, the impact on the families and communities affected is huge. But despite the damage caused, as a country, we do too little to protect our own properties from the risks and costs of flooding. This needs to change.
“To increase the resilience of the UK’s housing stock, more needs to be done to support households to protect themselves. Making flood readiness a visible part of a property’s value would allow those who invest in flood precautions to realise a financial gain for that that work – and encourage those who have not prepared to start doing so.”
“We’re also calling for the Government to introduce a more generous and ambitious grant scheme for those affected and for action from the insurance industry and Flood Re to help households make the right decisions. By doing so, the next time a major flood event hits the UK, households across the UK will be better placed to respond”
(1) This element of the report was covered in the Financial Times earlier: https://www.ft.com/content/caaaffee-2b9a-11e8-a34a-7e7563b0b0f4
The report can be accessed here: https://www.smf.co.uk/publications/household-action-flooding/
Contact: Please call the SMF Office on 020 7222 7060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About this report:
The SMF report was sponsored by Flood Re. The lead author is Matthew Oakley, Senior Researcher at SMF and formerly a senior Civil Servant.
About the SMF:
The SMF is a cross-party think-tank that works for fair markets. We are a registered charity. Chaired by Mary Ann Sieghart, our board of trustees includes Tessa Jowell, a Labour peer, and Gillian Shephard, a Conservative peer. The SMF has no party-political affiliation, working with politicians of all parties who support sensible, practical policies that will make Britain’s economy and society more fair and more dynamic.