What renters need to know about sinkholes

- There was some good news Monday regarding the sinkhole in Land O' Lakes. Pasco County officials say the water supply appears to have been unaffected by the sinkhole, which opened up Friday morning. The sinkhole has also has stopped growing.

Though things have calmed down on Ocean Pines Drive, Emily Geldbaugh, who lives next door to the sinkhole, is nervous about ever returning home.

"I don't think I'll ever be comfortable living there again," Geldbaugh said. "It's just too close,"

Friday's sinkhole swallowed most of two homes. Five remain evacuated.

“We don’t know exactly where that safe edge is,” said Kevin Guthrie, Assistant County Administrator for Public Safety. “We are going to do everything within our power to get those folks back in as soon as they can. We are going to be with you every step of the way.”

Monday brought some relief - evidence that no well water was contaminated. Now, the focus shifts to fixing and filling the massive hole, which could mean having to drain it first.

"What I know for sure is, in the two destroyed homes, there were actually renters inside those homeowners' homes," Guthrie said. "The renters, neither one had any type of renters' insurance."

In an area known as "Sinkhole Alley," these catastrophic events are not unheard of. But, they're something you should hear of before moving in. Under Florida law, home sellers who've repaired previous sinkhole damage, must fill out disclosure forms that buyers can read over.

"It's a good price so a lot of times they look like very good properties but you do have to tell them it is a mitigated property, it may have solved the problem, it may not have solved the problem," said realtor Barbara Jordan.

The rules for sinkhole disclosure are much looser for renting.

"I've talked to a couple property managers, they said there is no legal obligation through the state of Florida, there is nothing they have to say. They do have to disclose lead-based paint and asbestos, but, there's no sinkhole," Jordan said.

You can find out, though. HomeFax is a new system local realtors are using. For a couple bucks, you can type an address and evaluate your risks from flooding to hail to sinkholes.

"Distance to closest reported sinkhole, .1 miles," Jordan read on the computer screen after searching one of the homes destroyed by the sinkhole, that had prior problems.

When in doubt, Jordan says, keep digging.

"If you have a concern about sinkhole activity I would talk to the neighbors because usually, they know things that have happened and sometimes, you can find a lot of information that way," Jordan said.

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