Ask 13: Who's responsible for London Road homes falling into a sinkhole?

Two houses in East Asheville are falling into a sinkhole, and that has some neighbors wondering who is responsible for the homes.

"What's with the homes at 225 and 221 London Road that are falling into a sinkhole?" Mike Edney wrote to Ask 13. "Would the city be responsible if it is a sewer or water line failure?"

RELATED | Sinkholes damage Asheville houses, residents worry

The Metropolitan Sewerage District started getting calls from homeowners on London Road last year when they noticed walls were cracking and doors wouldn't open or shut. Since then, it's gotten progressively worse.

MDS and the city have visited the property and said the problem isn't from any of their sewer or water lines.

Neighbors have been keeping a close eye on what's going on.

"It was rather sudden. The properties started to sink into the ground. People came out, I'm not quite sure who, and said it was a sinkhole -- that it was a storm drain that broke," Victoria Smith told News 13.

Neighbors are concerned the sinkhole could have an impact on their properties as it grows. They're also worried about their property values since the homes falling into the hole are worthless, and no one seems to be doing anything about them.

During the search for the owners, News 13 found that the home at 221 London Road was built and sold by Habitat for Humanity 15 years ago.

Executive director Andy Barnett said a creek was diverted into a buried drain pipe that failed.

He said it was installed years before Habitat for Humanity owned the property or built the home and it was never recorded with the city.

Barnett said Habitat for Humanity has entered into a legal settlement with the owner and could not disclose any more information because of a confidentiality agreement.

News 13 wasn't able to find out anything about the second home, which was not built by Habitat.

The city said it's usually not responsible in these types of cases since the pipe was installed by a developer on private property. In this case, it seems the seller of at least one of the homes, Habitat for Humanity, has agreed to shoulder some of the responsibility.

The neighbor says the homes have been condemned and continue to sink deeper every day.

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