Climate change is likely to affect most if not all our homes, and homebuyers are much more conscious of environmental issues nowadays, which is something to be aware of if you are selling.

‘If your home is already affected, other properties in your neighbourhood probably will be too. Often, you can improve your chances of a successful sale by showing you have considered any issues and taken steps to address them,’ says Elliot Bedwell-Mintz, a Licensed Conveyancer in the residential conveyancing team with Landsmiths Solicitors.

For many of us, a home overlooking the ocean is the stuff of dreams. Sadly, rising sea levels are another effect of global warming and the increased risk of flooding and coastal erosion, amplified by the media, has made some more wary of buying a coastal property.

Adverse incidents, like flooding, often seem like a twofold blow; once when you experience the stressful event itself, and again when you must disclose it on sale. That is why it is so important to discuss any concerns with a solicitor you trust, someone who can advise you of the legal implications and help you move forward.

Elliot, explains, ‘You may not be able to change factors such as your property’s underlying flood risk. However, you can still do a lot to improve your chances of a successful sale.’

Increased flood risk
Flooding is one of the biggest climate related challenges now facing homeowners. Research suggests that even a ‘modest’ increase in average temperatures of two per cent over the next twenty-five years could result in a 61 per cent increase in the number of properties flooded. That figure is worrying, even more so if your home has already been flooded.

Unfortunately, flooding can seriously affect future saleability. This can be so even if your home has not suffered directly. For example, if floods have affected a nearby property or if your neighbourhood is identified as being at ‘higher risk’. However, every situation is unique and if your home is otherwise attractive to prospective buyers, there are things you can do to offset the negative impact of flood risk.

As part of the conveyancing process, your solicitor will give you a form, TA6, to fill in. Completed, this form will give the buyer detailed information about your property, and one of the questions is about flooding. It can be tempting not to reveal a previous episode of flooding, but it is important to tell the truth. If you conceal something significant from your buyer, this could backfire, leaving you open to a claim for misrepresentation. In a worst-case scenario, your buyer could reject the sale contract and seek compensation from you. So, it is important to discuss any concerns with your solicitor before completing the form.

You may be able to mitigate the disclosure of prior flooding by putting it into context. For example, it may have happened many years ago with no reoccurrences, or you may have carried out work to your property to reduce the risk in the future. Providing a flood risk report may also alleviate your buyer’s concerns. This is a formal surveyor’s report summarising the flood risk and explaining how preventive measures have affected that risk. Similarly, showing you have been able to continue to insure your home against flood risk can help reassure buyers.

Deteriorating ground conditions
Higher temperatures and more extreme weather conditions are also affecting ground conditions. As a result, incidents of subsidence (where the ground under your property sinks) and heave (an upward movement of the ground, which can also cause property damage) have been increasing.

If your home is showing signs of either, it is a good idea to consider the potential impact before putting your home on the market. If your property has suffered from subsidence in the past, you will have to disclose this when you sell. However, as with flooding, you can mitigate the impact by showing how you have addressed the issue. Conversely, your property may show signs of subsidence, or you may suspect a potential issue (perhaps because a neighbouring property is affected), which you have not addressed. In this case, you should seek expert advice. A structural engineer can tell you how serious the issue is and advise you of your options.

Many cracks are caused by settlement rather than subsidence, which is usually not a major issue. In this case, the structural engineer’s report should reassure potential buyers. Moreover, even if the report reveals subsidence, you will be better able to respond to any concerns raised. This could be through carrying out remediation works or a realistic renegotiation of price. While not ideal, these types of issue need not derail your sale.

Coastal erosion
For many of us, a home overlooking the ocean is the stuff of dreams. Sadly, rising sea levels are another effect of global warming and the increased risk of flooding and coastal erosion, amplified by the media, has made some more wary of buying a coastal property.

However, only a relatively small number of homes are directly affected by coastal erosion. So, if you own a coastal property, check to see if it is in a high-risk area. You can do this by looking at the coastal erosion management plans held by the Environment Agency and your local authority’s shoreline management plan if they have one. Putting together the relevant information in advance can help. This way you can address any concerns potential buyers may have. For additional peace of mind, you could obtain an environmental search report that shows the latest national coastal erosion risk mapping. A low or medium future risk is something most potential buyers would accept as the price of a beachside retreat.

Searches, enquiries, detailed reports, surveyor’s advice.
As part of the conveyancing process, your buyer’s solicitor will collect a lot of detailed information about your property. This will include asking questions about flooding and other environmental matters. So, it is a good idea to consider your answers and discuss any potential issues with your solicitor early on. If you have a particular concern, try to do this before putting your home on the market.

Buyers will also often arrange for an environmental report. There are various types available, which can target specific issues and give different levels of detail. Although it is ultimately down to your buyers to investigate the risks, sometimes it can be a good idea for you as seller to commission an environmental report. The reasons are twofold. Firstly, if the report is generally positive, you could provide a copy to your buyers to reassure them, reducing the risk of issues being raised later. Secondly, if the report does reveal areas of concern, you can start actively addressing them. For example, through remedial works or a specialist surveyor’s report, which gives a more detailed assessment of any residual risks.

Turning environmental concerns into a positive
When you are selling a property, climate change related challenges may just seem like another obstacle to overcome. Alternatively, you could look upon them as an opportunity to show your home in a more positive light. With rising energy costs and greater emphasis on sustainability, buyers are increasingly concerned about energy efficiency. Ensuring your Energy Performance Certificate rating is high can showcase your green credentials, making your home stand out against other comparable properties. So, if your boiler is due for replacement, make sure your new one is energy efficient. You could even consider renewable heating alternatives, such as a heat pump.

Transparency, good communication, and careful management of the parties’ expectations can usually offset the negative impact of any environmental concerns.

For further information, please contact Elliot Bedwell-Mintz in the residential conveyancing team on 0333 023 2256 or email

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.


© Landsmiths Solicitors is a business name of Landsmiths Legal Limited, a private limited company registered in England and Wales under Company Number 12544060 VAT Registration No: 372 8281 77. Landsmiths Legal Limited is authorised and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority firm no. 802873, with its registered office at Stoney House, 26-30 Stoney Street, Nottingham, NG1 1LL. Its Directors are Rachael Briggs, Vikhen Moothia and Chloe Smart.

You can find out more about the Solicitors Regulation Authority including their contact details and professional conduct rules on their website:

Terms and Conditions and information on the firm’s Professional Indemnity Insurance are available on request.

Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies | Complaints | Interest Policy