The UK had two major periods of house building in the modern age. The first was the Victorian period; the second was the post-war 1950s-60s. This was when new developments replaced bombed areas or those that were aging and needed replacing. In many of our towns and cities, the water pipes in those houses and between them are now aging and inefficient. A recent insurance industry study showed a strong link between Victorian houses and flood risk. This is especially the case in London.
Victorian Properties Higher Risk of Flooding
The industry analysed some 5,000 insurance claims where the claim was made against a burst water pipe. In nearly all cases across London, the properties and the water infrastructure in the building, was Victorian. In fact, most claims were close to the city’s Victorian water infrastructure. This was the infrastructure built during an event called “The Great Stink”. Now it seems we need to turn to the houses, but this isn’t just limited to London.
Claims for flooding are around 1/3 of all claims to insurance providers every year, and most are in Victorian buildings.
Winter is Flooding Season
It did not make the national news, but local London residents were fully aware of the problem. In early October, a burst pipe in the area flooded four properties. One ground floor flat was submerged in around 4” of water, damaging personal items and property, the walls and the floor.
It is not the first and nor will it be the last of the season where most floods take place. If your student HMO property is from this period, it’s worth looking into when the pipes were more recently replaced. If they are still the original pipes, they are already a risk for bursting leading to property floods. The insurance headache that follows could leave you out of pocket.
Does This Only Affect London?
The short answer is no, this does not apply only to London. But because of London’s high population and the larger proportion of Victorian era housing, claims for “escape of water” have been much higher.
Received a call from your student tenants about a burst water pipe?
- Ensure you turn off all utilities
- Move all personal effects to unaffected rooms. In most cases, this will be upstairs
- If the flooding is particularly bad, use sandbags to prevent further water entry
- Once all the water has gone, drying may be necessary such as a dehumidifier. A specialist service provider may be needed
- Don’t forget to contact the insurance company
- In severe flooding, the emergency services may be needed to pump it out
While you can’t do much about external burst mains, you can ensure that internal water pipes are up to date.