Subsidence news gives us that sinking feeling

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty, advises how to investigate the extent of subsidence in a property
Legal cartoon
Question: We are buying a house but the sellers have put a spanner in the works by saying in the property information form that it has suffered from subsidence.

We love the house but are concerned. Surely the rule is that you should never touch a house that has subsidence. Should we withdraw our offer?

Answer: Not necessarily, though your solicitor must make detailed and thorough enquiries on your behalf. First, establish whether the subsidence has been investigated and, if appropriate, remedial action taken. If it was, was it dealt with through an insurance claim?

Request schedules of any work carried out and any subsequent certificate of structural adequacy. If a certificate was issued, make sure its benefits transfer to you if you buy. Re-inspection might be necessary depending on how long ago any certificate was issued.

Was a buildings regulations completion certificate issued? This would have been because underpinning was required.

Have the sellers had problems insuring the property? Consider taking on their insurance, if they have it.

If remedial works have not been carried out it would be prudent to obtain a full structural survey to ensure the property is no longer moving. You may need a structural engineer's report - your surveyor will advise you on that.

You might be able to negotiate a reduction in the price of the house, of course, on the basis that this should cover the costs of any work that has to be done.

If you are getting a mortgage, the lender must be kept informed and must be happy with the outcome.

What's your problem?


If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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