Whilst many throughout the country are enjoying the July heat wave, the sunshine does not only bring good news, warns Landmark Information Group. The risk of a full blown subsidence event has been upgraded to ‘moderate’ according to a new report from leading UK arboriculturist OCA UK Ltd**.
Despite this, thorough checks of a property’s subsidence risk may not always be carried out as standard during the conveyancing process; as a result, many homebuyers may be purchasing a property without realising the dangers or understanding the impact upon value, insurability and saleability.
Chris Taylor, Product Development Director for Environmental – Legal, Landmark Information Group, explains: “A lack of moisture in the soil is one of the main causes of subsidence. As we are currently experiencing a heat wave which follows a very dry June and is set to continue throughout July, we could expect to see an increase in the number of subsidence claims in the coming months.
“We saw a similar pattern of dry weather in 2003 and 2006, during which time the number of subsidence claims increased significantly. Furthermore, 2013 has so far has been drier than 2006 and follows a very wet year so we have an unprecedented situation.
“1 in 5 homes in the UK* (approximately 6.5 million properties) are at risk of subsidence with an average estimated £200-250 million spent on subsidence claims every year. If we see similar claims to those experienced in 2003 and 2006, subsidence could cost the industry as much as – if not more than - £400m. Subsidence is not an issue that is going to go away; in fact, research predicts a more than 50% increase in subsidence over the next 30 years alone***. It is crucial that buyers know up-front the potential risks of a property they are considering purchasing.”
Andy Lucas, Managing Director of Property Assure, said: “The 2003 subsidence volume was the equivalent of the properties affected by devastating floods in 2007 in Sheffield, Hull and Tewkesbury****. It is not all bad news however; subsidence risk can be mitigated by some simple cost effective steps – the first step is to be aware of a property’s subsidence risk.”
Chris Taylor continues: “In partnership with Property Assure, we have developed our Subsidence Risk Services to remove the burden from solicitors. The reports ensure providing a comprehensive service for clients is very straightforward and provides both solicitors and their clients with peace of mind that all necessary checks have been carried out and that no hidden surprises will be uncovered once the buyers have moved in.
“With a turnaround of just 24 hours for the initial opinion and 10 days for any follow-on site work, Subsidence Risk Services is a quick and convenient method of obtaining the right information, which ensures that the purchase process won’t be delayed by lengthy enquiries or hidden surprises. The report has been designed with both property professionals and homebuyers in mind to ensure that a clear answer is provided and additional services are available for those wishing to investigate further.”
The Subsidence Risk Certificate can be purchased for just £15 + VAT.
For more information on Landmark Information Group, visit www.landmark.co.uk or call 0844 844 9966. For further information on Subsidence Risk Services visit www.subsidencesupport.co.uk.
*British Geological Survey
** Source: OCA Climate News & Newsletter July13
*** ‘The hidden risks of climate change: An increase in property damage from soil subsidence in Europe’, Swiss RE 2011
****The Pitt Review