We have all heard nightmare stories about subsidence. Fortunately, it is a problem only affects a small amount of people. However, it is worth being prepared.

Putting subsidence into perspective
Subsidence is mainly a problem in areas with clay soil – notably south of an imaginary line between Bristol and Hull. The main areas affected are London and the South East, but even in this part of the country, only one in 50 houses has suffered subsidence problems over the last 30 years.
Most home insurance policies will cover the damage resulting from subsidence. You can reduce the risk to your property by knowing what to look out for and taking some simple preventative measures.

What is subsidence?
Subsidence is caused when a building’s foundations sink because the soil is unstable. Contributory factors are clay soil, vegetation that draws water from the soil, and leaking drains. ‘Heave’, on the other hand, is when the ground swells because of increased moisture, causing the foundations to rise.

What are the warning signs of subsidence?
The first obvious signs are cracks, but most houses suffer cracking, so don’t be alarmed by every crack that appears. The damage is usually cosmetic and can be repaired with grout or sealant. Many cracks result from settlement, when a building moves under its own weight in its first few years. These are usually nothing to worry about.
However, watch out for small, usually diagonal cracks suddenly appearing in plasterwork around doors and windows or between different parts of the property, especially after long periods of dry weather. They are normally at least 1mm wide and are usually wider at the top than at the bottom.
If you are at all worried, contact your buildings insurer straight away. If you are in the process of buying a home and suspect subsidence, commission a Home Buyer’s Report.

New rules mean landlords can no longer automatically ban tenants from having pets

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced new guidelines around common household pets, bringing the UK one step closer to banning landlords from refusing tenants with animals.
The move marks a breakthrough for many tenants who currently face eviction for bringing animals into their home.
Currently, just 7% of private landlords advertise pet friendly properties, the government said, meaning many people struggle to find suitable homes.
In some cases, this has meant tenants have had to give up their pets all together.
However, the Ministry of Housing has now introduced a new standard tenancy agreement template which is the recommended contract that landlords should use.
Under the new Model Tenancy Agreement, landlords will no longer be able to issue blanket bans on pets. Instead, consent for pets will be the default position and landlords will have to object in writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant and provide a good reason. It hopes to put a stop landlords who issue blanket bans on pets without good reason.
The new rules mean that landlords who object will have to do so writing within 28 days of a written pet request from a tenant.
They’ll also have to provide a valid reason, such as the property size or surrounding issues, such as a block of flats where owning a pet could be impractical.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “It can’t be right that only a tiny fraction of landlords advertise pet friendly properties and in some cases people have had to give up their beloved pets in order to find somewhere to live.”

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