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Selling A House With A Mineshaft

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The UK has a long history of prosperous mining, though this has had the unfortunate consequence of leaving many old mine shafts and abandoned mines near properties.

This can cause a range of issues, such as subsidence or sinkholes, which can make it difficult to obtain insurance or mortgage or even to buy and sell affected properties.

The government provides excellent advice on the matter, the first of which should be checking with the Coal Authority and obtaining their mining reports.

This will enable you to find out if there’s a mineshaft near your property or the house you’re considering buying. There are many mines from the 1800s, some of which were ‘capped’ with materials such as wooden railway sleepers.

Unfortunately, wood degrades over time, meaning topsoil can fall into the mine, leading to sinkholes.

Modern entrances are protected by concrete caps, which prevent people from falling in and address other potential hazards. This helps to ensure safety and minimise risks.

If you’re looking at buying or selling a house near a mineshaft, there are a few steps you can take to make the process easier.

Table of Contents

A conveyancing search for a house with a mineshaft

If you know that there is a mineshaft beneath your property or garden, you must disclose this information in the full disclosure documents.

If not, the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor may conduct a search with the Coal Authority and discover: 

  • any mine entry points within 20 meters of the property’s boundary;
  • coal mining hazards that have been reported in that area; 
  • coal mine gas emissions and future coal mining plans in the area.

The mineshaft does not have to be on your property for it to be an issue that could deter a buyer.

Selling A House With A Mineshaft
There are some issues if a mineshaft has been capped. This is because old mines, such as railway sleepers, were typically sealed with timber.

Understanding a mineshaft conveyancing search

The conveyancing solicitor of the buyer will be able to determine whether your property has a mineshaft. This is because any mine entries within 20 metres of the boundary of a property are referred to as a ‘shaft’ or an ‘adit’. Here is a breakdown of these terms:

A mineshaft is a vertical access point to a mine. It is usually 2.5 metres wide and was used to transport personnel, minerals and supplies. Most mineshafts have been capped and filled in.

On the other hand, a mine adit is a horizontal entrance to an underground mine. It was often used for water drainage, ventilation and mineral extraction.

There are some issues if a mineshaft has been capped. This is because old mines, such as railway sleepers, were typically sealed with timber.

This will eventually degrade, which results in a layer of soil covering the shaft. This can lead to the mineshaft being exposed and any other covering in the garden or driveway being at risk.

Can a mineshaft cause subsidence?

When a mine is operational, pumps are used to remove the water that has flooded the mineshaft so the miners can work safely. When the mine closes, however, the pumps are switched off.

This causes the groundwater to rise to the surface, leading to the structure of the mine deteriorating or collapsing. This collapse could cause the surface to move, damaging buildings or even collapsing into the mine.

Can I get a mortgage if my home is close to a mineshaft?

Finding a mortgage to buy a home near a mineshaft can be a struggle for potential buyers, and even more so when it comes to finding a new mortgage lender.

This is a major problem for those who previously bought a property without being aware of the nearby mineshaft, and now they cannot sell their homes.

Mortgage lenders are reluctant to provide a loan for such a property due to the added risk it poses and the potential for the property to be unsellable.

However, some lenders may consider offering a loan if certain precautionary steps are taken. The lender is looking for assurance that the mineshaft will not pose a risk to the house in the future.

It’s worth noting that a mineshaft in a neighbouring property is unlikely to cause a problem to the security of nearby homes. Nonetheless, there is a risk that the property’s value could decrease in the future, making lenders wary of granting a loan.

It is not always obvious that a house has a mineshaft nearby, as there are thousands of abandoned mineshafts across the country.

What will mortgage lenders check for a house near a mineshaft
As a home seller, you don't need to worry about whether or not a buyer can get a mortgage for a house near a mineshaft - unless you're having trouble finding buyers.

What will mortgage lenders check for a house near a mineshaft?

When a mortgage lender needs to assess a mineshaft close to a house, the conveyancing solicitor will request a mining report from the Coal Authority.

This report is applicable for properties in England, Wales, and Scotland and provides some comfort since the Coal Authority has an obligation to cover any damage caused by a property’s proximity to a mineshaft.

This protection is not only applicable to coal mines but also to brine mines.

Since there are other types of mineshaft that are not documented, a mortgage lender will likely ask for additional reports plus an inspection of the property before approving the mortgage application.

As a home seller, it would be wise to familiarise oneself with these checks and reviews and consider carrying them out prior to placing your home on the market.

Getting a mortgage for a house near a mineshaft

As a home seller, you don’t need to worry about whether or not a buyer can get a mortgage for a house near a mineshaft – unless you’re having trouble finding buyers.

In that case, you’ll need to understand the potential risks, as you may have to lower the price of the house to attract a buyer.

Risks associated with having a house close to a mineshaft include the formation of sinkholes, soil erosion, and surface and groundwater contamination.

This isn’t just a concern in well-known mining areas – getting a mining search done will help bring peace of mind, even if it’s not legally required.

A conveyancing solicitor will do a ground investigation to determine any potential risks from a mineshaft. They must make sure the property is safe for long-term occupancy.

What happens when a coal mine has been closed for years?

There is also an issue that most mines have been inactive for many years, so there is no longer any indication that they were ever in use.

There is no proof to suggest that the mine could be a problem for homeowners, as the former structures may have been covered by grass or built on.

Many older mines were not filled and sealed properly when they ceased operations. These aged structures can cause a lot of trouble, like the collapsing of shafts and damaging nearby residences.

What will mortgage lenders check for a house near a mineshaft
Selling a house with a mineshaft can be challenging, as most mortgage lenders are reluctant to provide a loan for such a property.

Things to consider when selling a house with a mineshaft

Selling a house with a mineshaft can be challenging, as most mortgage lenders are reluctant to provide a loan for such a property. It can also be difficult to obtain building insurance, even if a coal mining report is positive and confirms that the property is not in danger.

As a result, you may have to sell your home for less than other properties in the area, as buyers may consider it to be ‘blighted’. The Coal Mining Subsidence Act 1991 does provide some protection for the buyer. However, they may still be at risk of a sinkhole appearing due to the shaft.

To protect themselves, the buyer may request an ‘interpretive report’ from the Coal Authority, or you may choose to engage specialists.

These professionals will provide a report that confirms the property is not liable to subsidence and is a safe investment.

 They may also carry out an on-site inspection or walkover survey to determine the ground’s stability and provide a risk rating of high, medium or low, along with any recommendations for further action.

  • A ‘competent person’ who is a mining engineer,
  • Mining geologist,
  • A geotechnical engineer or mineral surveyor may also complete the walkover survey.
  • Geo-environmental engineer to complete the survey.

Navigating the Maze of Selling a House with a Mineshaft

When selling a house that has a mineshaft, you need to be prepared for the extra obstacle that may come with it. Don’t worry, however, as it isn’t impossible to make a sale.

You could start by researching the Coal Authority to find out if there are any issues. You may have to lower the price of the house if potential buyers are put off.

Don’t forget, there may be a cash buyer looking for an investment who won’t mind the mineshaft.

Cash house-buying companies will purchase any house, regardless of condition. If you are looking to sell a house located near a mineshaft, we are here to help you out. The offer we will make will be lower than usual for a similar unaffected property, as it reflects the current market value of your property, mineshaft and all.

The first step is to contact us – as we have experience of buying houses with a mineshaft in the past. 

Sell a House With Mineshaft

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