The landlord is responsible for the structure and external appearance of the property and the property must be fit to live in. Structural problems such as subsidence can restrict the habitability of the property and can be quite stressful to deal with.
If you start to see cracks in brickwork or plaster work, or ripped wallpaper, this may be caused by subsidence. If you are the tenant, contact your landlord. If you are the landlord, you need to call your insurer immediately. They will recommend having a chartered surveyor look over the property to determine if subsidence has occurred.
Subsidence and its Causes
When soil moves from underneath a house and causes instability this can be a major repair issue which takes a long time to resolve. It is the landlord’s responsibility to have an insurance policy to cover repairs resulting from subsidence and sometimes large insurance payouts are required. Subsidence has several different causes. It is more common among houses which are built on clay because if the water table drops the ground becomes unstable. It can also occur if trees or bushes shift away from foundations or water washes away soil from around foundations. If the house is built on a former mine this can also make the land unstable and prone to subsidence.
Steps for Landlords
Besides taking steps to avoid planting trees too close to houses, landlords should ensure they have buildings insurance to ensure they are covered if subsidence damage occurs. Tenants usually contribute to the buildings insurance through their payment of the service charge. If the property was built on a former mine and subsidence occurs, or there is a landslip, there is little the landlord can do other than rely on the insurance. Remember you will likely have to pay an excess on your insurance.
If you have a dispute with your insurer about cover when subsidence occurs, we can negotiate on your behalf or assist in making a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman.
To talk to us about subsidence or structural issues, please call our Bayswater office on freephone 0800 524 4709 to make an appointment or fill in our contact form.
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