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Should condo owners in Michigan worry about sinkholes?

If you’re like most of our readers, you’ve probably heard about the gigantic sinkhole that opened up beneath a condominium recently, swallowing half of s building and leaving dozens of people without housing. Though many of the sinkholes reported in the last few months have mostly occurred in Florida, some people here in Michigan may be wondering if this is a problem they should be worrying about as well.

The unfortunate truth is that unless you live in the Upper Peninsula, your chances of encountering a sinkhole in this state are pretty high. That’s because the entire state sits on deposits of what are called evaporite rocks. According to geologists, these types of rocks are highly soluable in water and can create caverns in the ground beneath a property. When soil above begins to fill the underground cavern, a sinkhole can form, causing damage to a property and considerable frustrations for landlords and tenants alike.

Although no injuries were reported as a result of the most recent sinkhole, others have not been as lucky in other cases. This might lead one to wonder if a property owner would be held liable for injuries that happened on their property. When it comes to real estate properties like apartments and condos, this debate over liability could create a complicated landlord-tenant dispute where the tenant may argue that the landlord should have warned them of the danger prior to the accident.

Because sinkholes can happen suddenly and with little warning, a situation such as this could be incredibly complicated to argue on your own. For residents here in Michigan, it might not be a bad idea to speak with an attorney knowledgeable on the topic, especially if a situation such as this happens to you.

Source: USA Today, "Condos collapse into sinkhole near Disney World," John Bacon, Aug. 12, 2013

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