April Showers – Are you buying a new home but are concerned about potential flooding issues?

After the Easter washout it feels like everywhere is soaked through. If you have been viewing a property in the recent weather it may have been easier to identify if there were any drainage issues at the property but often these are not apparent on initial inspection. The Law society of Northern Ireland have recently issued a practice direction reminding us solicitors of our limited remit when it comes to advising clients in relation to flooding issues. It is important that purchasers understand that their solicitor is not an expert in structural or environmental conditions relating to a property which can seriously affect its value and marketability.

So what can your solicitor tell you? When a property is being sold the seller must complete an extensive questionnaire in the current format set by the Law society. This document is known as the “Vendors replies to pre contract enquiries” and it contains at question 15.5 the following question:

“Has the property been affected by any flooding during your period of ownership? If yes please provide details of the cause, extent and any outcomes (including insurance claims, if any)”

The recent practice direction states “This reply is a question of fact within the period of ownership of the vendor”. If the answer is yes, your solicitor will tell you so and you should then proceed to instruct your surveyor to make further enquiries. This may involve the use of the Flood Maps (NI) website by the appropriate surveyor/expert but further investigations in this regard would not be made by the solicitor.

A purchaser should not proceed to enter into contract until they are satisfied that such matters have been fully investigated by the appropriate experts who have reported their findings fully. A purchaser will have no comeback on a vendor if they fail to discover any problems that a full investigation would have revealed, provided the vendor has answered question 15.5 honestly to the best of their knowledge.

If you are buying a property, MTB will look after you and guide you through the process. Call us for a quotation on 02890329801.