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Flooding – How can you protect yourself?

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This winter is now officially the wettest winter on record. Flooding has affected thousands of people. Luckily, so far none of our landlords has been affected but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The winter isn’t over yet! And the high rainfall doesn’t just lead to flooded rivers, water can also flood up through overflowing and blocked drains so in theory any property could be at risk, even if you are not near a river. So how can you protect yourself?

Be vigilant

First, make sure you watch weather forecasts regularly and take note of any flood warnings.

Keep important phone numbers to hand, particularly your insurance company – keep a note of your policy number. Check now to see exactly what you are covered for.

Practical measures in the event of flooding

If flooding is imminent, move anything valuable either upstairs or off the floor.

Get hold of some sandbags. Local councils are delivering these in many affected areas so talk to yours to find out where you can get hold of some.

Put together an emergency kit in case you need to leave your home at short notice – spare clothes, medicines, toiletries and any important paperwork or emergency contact details.

Advice for Landlords

If your tenant is unable to occupy your property due to flooding, they are not liable to pay the rent. Check to see if your landlord insurance policy covers loss of rent.

Flooding is classed as an ‘Act of God’ and you are not obliged to find alternative accommodation for the tenant. Normally, they would stop paying rent and find somewhere else to live. But check to see if your insurance covers the cost of alternative accommodation for the tenant. If your property is flooded, make sure you keep in regular contact with your tenant so that you can update them about what is going on – it will help to reduce the stress that you will both be experiencing.

Advice for Tenants

Tenants should have their own contents insurance. They often expect their belongings to be covered on their landlord’s insurance but this is not the case. Even if the landlord has contents insurance (because the property is furnished) it won’t cover tenants’ possessions. This is an important point to consider generally – while floods are thankfully not that common, this also applies to other damage caused to possessions in rented accommodation.

For example, a tenant in one of our managed properties in West London recently dropped his iPad in the bath and expected to be able to claim on his landlord’s insurance policy. But the landlord had no legal responsibility for the tenant’s belongings and was unable to do so.

Hopefully, you won’t need to put this advice into practice but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. And if your property is professionally managed, your agent will take care of this for you – a huge relief in difficult times.

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About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents.  With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 21 prominently located branches and 14 international offices.

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