Subsidence on prospective neighbouring property?

by Readers Question

8:49 AM, 28th August 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Subsidence on prospective neighbouring property?

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Subsidence on prospective neighbouring property?

My wife and I  have had our offered on a property accepted by the vendor. The problem lies in the fact that at the bottom of the garden are a row of adjoining terraced houses with the foundations of the end terrace alleging to have been affected by the tree planted at the bottom of the vendor’s garden.

The vendor made us aware of this situation as soon as we had our offered accepted and had promised to bear any costs a successful claim by the neighbour would incur. The problem lies in the fact that the owner of the property at the end of the garden didn’t take out insurance and has therefore looked to use the tree as the reason for the subsidence and make a claim against the vendor. The vendor believes it is a spurious claim that won’t be upheld…but the report by an independent arboriculturalist proved inconclusive as they weren’t prepared to commit either way.

On driving past a couple of weeks ago, we noticed that the end terrace at the bottom of the garden had a for sale sign outside. After further investigation, we found that it was sold to a cash buyer at knock-down price due to the property being unmortgageable and uninsurable (a tell-tale sign of subsidence). The property now no longer belongs to the former owners who were looking to claim against the vendor of the property we are looking to buy.

We are left in a bizarre limbo situation where we don’t know if the previous owners of the subsidence house can still legitimately bring a claim, who they will make the claim against and what the likely cost of this would be. We do know that the property was sold for around £50k less than market value. If that weren’t complicated enough, the vendor is terminally ill and if he were to die in the intervening period, this situation is made worse.

The question to ask is if the owner of the subsidence-affected house were to make a claim, who would it be against and what would be the likely limit of the claim. I am led to believe that the new owners cannot make a claim as their losses have been mitigated by the reduced cost of the house.

Help Please!

Ken



Comments

Mark Crooks

11:01 AM, 28th August 2018
About 3 weeks ago

In my opinion you shouldn't rely on the vendors promise to cover any costs.

My first thought would be to see if there is an insurance policy that can be taken out to cover any future claim against you (or any future owner of the property you intend to purchase) and if so, get the vendor to purchase that for you as part of the deal.

Similar policies are available to cover when leasehold landlords are absent or when building regs certificates have not been issued etc.

Graham Bowcock

18:37 PM, 28th August 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Dear Ken

Sounds like quite a risky deal, so unless you can be sure you are getting an absolute bargain, maybe steer away. I think you need a lawyer to look at paperwork as there are always intricacies in such cases; you may have missed something crucial in your general summing up of the matter. You have mentioned the involvement of several parties (two vendors, two buyers) so you do need to get all of your ducks in a row as to where liability sits.

As for insurance, I suspect you are too late as the cat is out of the bag. You can;' usually buy insurance for an event that has happened (bit like buying car insurance after the accident, just in case the guy you hit actually makes a claim!).

Graham

Wyn Burgess

7:35 AM, 1st September 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Make vendor give indemnity for any future claim against you if possible. Remove tree and roots, let houses recover for a couple of years. Pay only for installation of remedial ties in uninsured house as likely to need redecoration in any event. It is nonsense to pollard the tree or remove it in stages, it caused the subsidence so it has to go.


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