UK floods: what happens now

We’ve been saddened to see the impact of the terrible floods that have plagued so many regions of the UK over the last month, and our sympathies go out to all those affected. While the waters have now receded in many areas, the effects of the inundation will in many cases be long-lived and costly.

The rebuilding process is now underway and whilst the immediate focus is obviously to make homes habitable once more, where the property has been rented out, it’s also worth bearing in mind how the floods may affect the tenancy agreement.

How badly a property has been damaged can affect the tenancy and, of course, the tenancy deposit. If it’s still generally habitable, and can be repaired with the tenant in situ, then it should be in the mutual interest of the landlord and tenant to work together to limit damage and get the house back in order quickly. Whilst tenants shouldn’t be liable for any damage to the property or contents caused by the floods, they do have a responsibility to allow reasonable access for the landlord or contractors to carry out any work required. It’s vital for affected landlords and tenants to maintain good communication with each other during this period to make sure repairs are completed as soon as possible.

It may be that the property is so severely damaged, that it’s uninhabitable, requiring the tenant to move out whilst repairs are completed. In this situation, the tenant is not usually expected to pay rent for the period they’re unable to live there. In certain cases, the tenant may even be entitled to terminate the tenancy immediately, and agreements often contain some sort of provision in this regard. Again, it’s important for landlords and tenants to discuss the situation and agree a course of action together.

If the tenancy does continue after the repairs are complete, we recommend a new inventory is prepared, documenting the condition of the repaired property and any furnishings that have been removed or replaced. The new inventory should detail the extent and quality of the repairs and replacements, along with documentation such as receipts, or insurance claims. An updated inventory benefits both landlord and tenant with a clear and agreed record of all mid-tenancy changes, and reduces the likelihood of disputes arising when the tenancy comes to an end. For guidance on how to create a strong inventory, you can find our top 10 tips here.

Our thoughts go out to all affected by the floods.

The DPS team