Coal Mining Subsidence Damage: UK Law
Your rights would fall under the Coal Mining Subsidence Act 1991 (later amended by the Coal Industry Act 1994).
Typical grounds for making a claim relating to ‘sinking’ or ‘subsidence’ damage caused by coal mining, include:
- Structural damage to your property.
- Ground collapse (or other damage to the land).
Note: The responsibility for dealing with compensation claims rests with the Coal Authority or one of the mining companies (often referred to as ‘the mine owner’).
Making a Claim for Subsidence Damage
Besides claiming for damage from the Coal Authority, you may also get compensation for surveyor fees if your claim is successful.
The first step is determining whether the damage is actually due to coal mining activities in your area. You can get this information from a chartered surveyor.
Next, you need to download the coal mining subsidence damage notice application form. Fill in the document and then send it to the Coal Authority address.
Coal Authority Public Safety and Subsidence Helpline
Telephone: 0345 762 6848
Monday to Friday: 8:45am to 5pm
The Coal Authority
200 Lichfield Lane
Note: The GOV.UK website contains more information about the special arrangements that may apply for certain types of properties, such as churches, farms, industrial premises, and listed buildings.
Who Can Make a Claim?
As a general rule, you must be the owner of a damaged property to make a claim for subsidence damage caused by coal mining.
What if there is a mortgage on the property? If so, you should notify the lenders (e.g. bank or building society).
Tenants should inform their landlord without delay, if they see any examples of subsidence damage. They may make a claim themselves in cases where tenancy agreements state they are responsible for carrying out repairs and maintenance.
Note: Financial compensation may also apply to damage caused to home improvements paid for by tenants and for certain types of personal belongings.
Deadlines for Claiming
Owners of properties damaged by coal mining subsidence should not delay making their claim. Nonetheless, the deadline is six (6) years.
Failing to claim at the earliest opportunity means there could be extra scope for a disagreement about when the actual damage appeared and its origin.
An engineer would inspect the area identified as ‘sinking’ and then confirm whether they agree with the claim for damages. Following that, (either):
- Someone would fix the damage.
- You would receive compensation for the damage.
What if You Disagree with the Decision?
In most cases, you would get a decision about your claim within three months. The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution can review the decision if you do not agree with it.
Owners claiming for a domestic property should apply under the Householder Arbitration Scheme. If not, you can apply under the General Arbitration Scheme.
Check if a Property is Affected by Coal Mining
Properties built near a former coal mine could be on unstable ground. But, you can order a mining report to find out if a property was built near to a coal mining area.
A search by postcode will show:
- Entries to mines (within twenty metres of boundaries).
- Gas emissions that may be coming from coal mines.
- Other relevant coal mining hazards.
- Potential plans for future coal mining activities in the nearby area.
Note: As a rule, a conveyancer (or solicitor) will conduct a coal mining search on your behalf when buying land or property in a coal mining affected area.
How to Order a Coal Mining Report
The Coal Authority website contains an online search facility that will confirm if you need a mining report. You would need to know the boundaries and postcode for your property.
You can also order other reports that may reveal general subsidence issues in the region, potential for flooding, or supplemental environmental risks.
Searching the Gazetteer will show whether a particular area requires a coal mining subsidence claim report (e.g. in cases where you do not know the postcode).
Related Help Guides
- How to claim compensation for property near HS2?
- Property ownership laws in the United Kingdom.
- How to update property records when the owner dies?
Note: You can report a coal mine hazard to the Coal Authority 24 hours a day (e.g. for ground collapses, sinkholes, emissions and leaks from a mine).