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Flood victims – your rights

publication date: Feb 22, 2014
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author/source: Dean Dunham

Dean DunhamWhat are your rights if you become a victim of flooding? Flood victims have been asked these questions:

Does the local authority have a duty to help me?

It is your responsibility under the law to protect your property from flooding. The local authority doesn’t actually have any legal obligations although the Environment Agency, local authority and the Emergency Services where possible will obviously offer assistance in the event of a flood.

The local authority has an obligation to provide alternative accommodation for their own council tenants.

What happens if I become homeless?

Under the Homelessness Acts 1996 and 2002 your local authority must provide you with suitable temporary accommodation, as a priority needs person, if you become homeless. Section 189(d) of the 1996 Act places a duty on local authorities to provide accommodation to a person who is homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster.

You should also check your insurance as building policies have a standard clause that covers the cost of alternative accommodation when your house is badly damaged due to insured perils such as flooding.

Can I get financial help from anywhere?

Britain's major banks, including RBS/Natwest, HSBC and Santander have pledged to support flood victims with a package of financial measures, including "payment holidays" on mortgages. Other banks and building societies will no doubt offer the same type of help for their customers. I have also heard that some banks have set up special loan facilities for flood victims and that other banks have agreed to “fast track” loan applications.

I can’t get to work, will I still get paid?

Unfortunately if you are unable to make it to work and carry out your normal duties, your employer is not obliged to pay you for that day. However, check to see if your particular employment contract says otherwise. Also, it is worth asking your employer if you can take the time as paid holiday.

My rented accommodation has flooded, what are my rights?

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 says that your landlord is legally responsible for certain repairs. Under section 11 your landlord must:
• keep the property’s structure and exterior in a good standard of repair, even if it was in a poor state of repair when the tenancy began;
• repair the property when damage has been reported. Your landlord is obliged to rectify any problems.
• ensure that the property’s supply of utilities (gas, electricity, water etc) is in working order.

So in the case of a flood your landlord will be obligated to deal with the repairs but will have no obligation to re-house you during the period of repairs. However, if the property is uninhabitable you will be able to freeze your rent or terminate the tenancy.

My Council / Housing Association property has flooded, what are my rights?

Both local authorities (councils) and housing associations (private registered provider of social housing (PRPSH)/registered social landlord (RSL)) have a legal duty to repair damage and disrepair in your property. Your housing provider should provide you with suitable alternative accommodation if you cannot live in your property whilst repairs are being carried out.

For more information visit Dean’s free legal and consumer website.