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London and the South East revealed as the UK’s hotspots for subsidence

Research from Direct Line Home Insurance has produced the top ten subsidence postcodes in the UK. They are N4, NW5, W10, N19, NW6, SE24, SE23, SE22, SE15 and NW11.

With subsidence affecting a large number of properties and repairs possibly running into thousands of pounds, Direct Line is advising householders of some preventative steps that they can take.

Soil volume can change by being too dry. A hot, dry summer can result in a reduction of soil volume. When this changes, the building can be damaged by tapering cracks. Whilst there is not a lot that can be done about this, householders need to be vigilant and pay close attention to the outward appearance of their home.

Trees and other vegetation can have a significant impact on soil drying out, as they soak up the water through their roots. Therefore, if you are planting new trees, make sure they are appropriate for your garden, the insurer says.

Bigger trees demand more moisture which could increase the shrinking of soil. The type of tree you plant is also important. Willow trees should be furthest away, while yew trees and magnolias are better if you have a small garden.

It's not just nature that can have an effect on subsidence. Research from Direct Line home insurance found nearly 20% of households are planning major building work or an extension to their homes in the next year. This could put more properties at risk of subsidence if these extensions are not built with deep foundations or too close to existing trees.

‘Do not panic if you suspect you have subsidence. You should act quickly by calling your insurer immediately. If you are concerned about the trees on your property do not make any rash decisions to cut them down. Look at what kind of tree it is, how far away from the house it is and whether they are protected by local conservation,’ said Rob Warner, head of risk modelling at Direct Line home insurance.

‘Good property maintenance such as looking after your drains can also help, as this could erode the soil surrounding the house,’ he added.