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RLA demands action on Flood Re

The RLA has submitted an official response to a Government consultation into future flood prevention.

Swathes of the UK were left devastated by widespread flooding at the end of 2015 and the beginning of this year and the Department for Food and Rural Affairs is consulting on how to tackle the issue.

The Government’s new Flood Re scheme, which will offer households at high risk of flooding affordable cover, will come into force next month.

However the scheme, which will be paid for by adding a surcharge to insurance bills across the board, excludes properties in the private rented sector, as buy-to-let homes are considered a commercial undertaking.

The RLA believes that up to 100,000 properties in the PRS could be at risk and says it has grave concerns that once the existing Statement of Principles,  which currently regulate flood cover,  is abandoned in favour of Flood Re its members could struggle to get insurance.

Responding to the consultation, Richard Jones, on behalf of the RLA said: “As floods happen more and more often the situation is worsening. We are firmly convinced that that once we move into the new era of Flood Re more and more private landlords and those in other excluded groups will find it impossible, very difficult or costly to obtain the necessary flood coverage.”

The team behind Flood Re said there are already existing policies available for homes within the PRS, a claim which has been disputed by the RLA, which fears landlords will either be unable to obtain insurance or be hit with large excesses and high premiums.

“The Government’s rationale is that these groups who are excluded can still obtain cover in the open market. We dispute this, but in any event the ability of private landlords and other affected groups to obtain cover in the market on reasonable terms, or even cover at all will diminish, in our view, once Flood Re is introduced,” said Jones.

In a survey of RLA members, 42% said premiums and excesses had increased in the past two years, with 44% saying it was difficult or very difficult to get insurance for rental properties in high risk flood areas. A total of 29% had been the victim of floods in the past few years, with 15% of respondents revealing they had no flooding cover at all.

The RLA has been lobbying the Government on the issue for some time – but so far the only assurance it has been given is that ministers will ‘monitor’ the situation.

The association is now calling for the Government to bring in Flood Re 2 – to extend the scheme to bring in the excluded groups, including private landlords, flat owners and small businesses and long term want to see large scale investment in flood defences and ongoing maintenance costs.

Mr Jones said: “We would advocate the creation of Flood Re 2 to embrace the excluded groups. A great deal of experience will have been gained in the process of setting up Flood Re. Therefore it should not take as much time, trouble and effort to create a second version.

“In the interim Government should secure the agreement of the insurance industry to the Statement of Principles continuing fully in force for these affected groups as a stop gap measure.”

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