According to a BBC news report, seven homes have been evacuated after a large sinkhole opened up behind a row of houses in Ripon, North Yorkshire.
Affected residents are facing the unpleasant reality that their homes are structurally unsafe and inhabitable, and that they might even be officially homeless over the Christmas period.
Ripon lies in one of the most susceptible areas for sinkholes
While one of the affected residents has described their situation as “quite traumatic”, The British Geological Survey reported that Ripon lies in one of the most susceptible areas of the UK for sinkholes because of its “Permian gypsum deposits”.
This disparity suggests that this sinkhole was not a surprise to those “in the know”, and that solicitors working in the local area are likely advising home buyers of the need to carry out land stability assessments ahead of their purchase – advice which is quite possibly being ignored.
Many home buyers see property searches as “just another cost”
Unfortunately, many home buyers still see property searches as “just another cost”, and in some cases are neither reading nor requesting necessary information from their solicitor.
Yet as the Ripon case highlights, there are very real risks attached to the land beneath a property, which home buyers should have a firm grasp of before gambling with their life savings.
Ground stability and mining information is readily available to home buyers
Although it is too late for the affected residents of Ripon, there is a range of information available which can help to protect future buyers from a similar fate; which can be accessed by any solicitor whose client expresses concern about their intended purchase.
These resources extend from thorough reports, such as the Groundsure Ground Stability report, which reveal the types of mining the property is at risk from, through to mining searches that can identify other risk areas.
There are also basic environmental reports from Groundsure and Landmark, which include a ground stability risk assessment.
Horror stories such as these show that the information presented in property searches can have very real implications for the people who go on to buy an affected home.
Fortunately, solicitors have good knowledge of their local area and will be able to advise their clients as to whether mining and land stability searches are necessary. The onus is then on the consumer to request the relevant information and protect themselves from a poor investment.
Hopefully cases like this bring a very real issue to the forefront of people’s minds, particularly in areas where there are known issues.
Megan Jones, Marketing Communications Executive at tmgroup
Photo credit: Nicolas Henderson