Tampa, Florida -- In an unanimous vote Wednesday, the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners approved an ordinance to track sinkhole inspection and repairs with the goal of protecting homeowners and home buyers.
Before this ordinance was passed, no public records were kept in Hillsborough County when homeowners hired a company to investigate their property about possible subsidence activity, or if work was done to the property. Because of this, current and future homeowners were at risk.
The new ordinance now requires the sinkhole investigator to obtain a permit. If the investigator discovers a sinkhole or other subsidence issues and the homeowner hires a company to repair it, a final report must be filed with the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office. This process helps ensure that a licensed geologist or qualified engineer is overseeing the repairs because they must sign off on the project. Typically, the investigation and repairs of sinkholes are made by the same company.
The HCPA expects this database to be available on its website by the spring of 2014. From then on, anyone purchasing a home or business in Hillsborough County will soon be able to search the property appraiser's website to learn if the property has a history of subsidence activity and, if so, if the problem has been fixed. The information will also be available to lenders.
Since the HCPA started tracking sinkholes 13 years ago, 1,594 cases have been reported. Of these, 668 have been remediated. If properly repaired by a licensed contractor, the property is considered safe to inhabit.