Every now and then we see pictures in the news of houses collapsing into the sea, landslides crushing property, and damage caused by soil erosion and pollution. These situations are devastating for the owners of the properties and they are not always simply because of climate-related risks and natural land erosion.
Water leaks from pipes, and pollution and soil erosion from agricultural and commercial uses are two of the many reasons why your land and property may be at risk.
If your property has been damaged as a result of land or soil erosion or if you have suffered as a result of soil or water pollution, you may be able to make a claim against the parties responsible. These could be:
- Farmers and owners of agricultural land
- Water and other utility companies
- Commercial enterprises, such as factories and industrial plants
- Local authorities
- Surveyors and conveyancing lawyers who failed to identify and warn you of land erosion risks
Natural and climate-related soil erosion and risk
Over the years there have been many stories in the press about climate-change, rising sea levels and the consequent risks to coastal properties. Sadly, this is a natural process and an inherent risk for seaside and, in some cases, riverside homeowners.
If your home is at risk, there may be nothing you can do to arrest the process of soil erosion, but you may be able to seek redress if you were not fully informed of this risk when you purchased your home.
If you bought a property but your surveyor or property solicitor failed to spot the risk of land erosion during the conveyancing process, you may be able to make a claim against them. If local searches would have revealed plans in place regarding flood defences or any known risk to the property, you should have been informed of the potential problems. If the appropriate searches were not conducted, you may have a claim against these professionals for their negligence.
Solicitor checks should also be carried out to determine the insurance position regarding any property that is situated in close proximity to water, and, at the very least, when purchasing, your conveyancing team should inform you of any matter which requires investigation.
Unfortunately, if your home is likely to collapse or suffer structural damage and the local authority determines that it needs to be demolished, you are likely to be left out of pocket, and in some cases you may even have to foot the bill for the demolition work. Check with your local authority to determine whether there is any relocation package available or grants that you can obtain to assist with the demolishing costs.
Man-made soil erosion and pollution
Soil and land erosion also occur as a result of man-made factors:
Farming and agriculture
There are numerous agricultural processes which may contribute to soil erosion, such as growing crops or farming animals on unsuitable land, and reducing ground cover by cultivating winter-sown cereal crops.
Soil eroded from agricultural settings may find its way into river channels, onto roads, and onto homes and gardens. Eroded soil is often polluted and harmful to human health. Sediment entering reservoirs can cause contamination of drinking water due to increased levels of phosphate.
Water leaks and seepage
Water seeping into the soil may wash away the earth to create breaches such as sinkholes and weakened soil which causes land collapse.
Water supply and sewer pipes are buried all around our towns and villages. The responsibility for maintaining and fixing leaking pipes varies depending on the type of pipe and where it lies in relation to land, individual properties and highways.
Water mains pipes and public sewer pipes are the sole responsibility of the water supply company or the sewerage/waste water company. If the sewer pipes and mains water pipes are not maintained properly, they have the capacity to create significant soil erosion which can damage homes and property through soil erosion.
Likewise, factories and commercial enterprises such as industrial plants, often have networks of pipes supplying water throughout their facilities, and for treating and removing the waste. Businesses have a responsibility to maintain these pipes and to treat waste water properly so as not to create a risk of soil erosion or pollution.
Wellers Law Group – Property damage litigation specialists
Our property litigation solicitors have represented clients in a number of complex, high-profile property law cases involving house collapse and land erosion.
If you have suffered property damage caused by soil erosion or if there is a risk of land erosion to your property, our team may be able to help you make a claim for compensation.