Four people had to be evacuated from a house in Warwick town centre after foundations collapsed in a courtyard outside the back door.
District council contractors hastily put up scaffolding to shore up four-storey Holloway House in The Holloway, just of Market Place, after dark on Monday.
They called police to help evacuate tenants after discovering a hole of nearly two metres deep had opened up at the rear of modern building which backs on to a courtyard of older houses in Theatre Street.
Two of the women living at Holloway House - who were urged to get out fast - work as housekeepers at the Rose and Crown pub-restaurant next door. Both have since been offered temporary accommodation there.
Pub manager Suzie Ayling said: “Two of our housekeepers had been renting accommodation at the house and were very upset when they suddenly had to move out after being told the building was unsafe.
“At the moment it looks like it will be months before the property will be fit for them to go back.”
The owner of the house is away abroad and so could not be contacted.
Five cars were normally parked in the central courtyard off Theatre Street and it is understood the alarm was raised after one man nearly slipped into the hole.
By Tuesday most of The Hollway - which is a cul de sac - was fenced off, creating delivery problems for other businesses operating in the street.
Contractors have also advised neighbours to consult their insurance companies if any damage results from further erosion in the courtyard.
Alys Wooley, who lives in Theatre Street, said: “I reported what was at first a small hole in the paving at the back of Holloway House some time ago. I was worried because there are children living nearby.
“The first council man who came out said it didn’t look too dangerous. But by the time they came back on Monday there was a huge hole and they had to cover it with boards and prop up the back of the wall.
“It was dark so they brought in arc lights to do the work and all my neighbours were told they had to park their cars elsewhere.”
Holloway House was originally a two-storey property standing near the site of the former theatre and the Globe Hotel which is now The Lazy Cow pub-restaurant.
An extra floor and dormer attic rooms were added in recent years.
Warwickshire police confirmed they had been called in to cordon off the area and help evacuate the tenants.
On Tuesday a structural engineer called to the site said it could be that a drain may have leaked into the foundations.
But Denis Maddy, head of building control for Warwick District Council, said he wasn’t sure whether the drain was responsbile.
Mr Maddy said: “At the moment the building is too dangerous to occupy. We understand the owner will be back from holiday shortly.”