Japanese Knotweed

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Did you know Japanese Knotweed can reduce the value of your property?

Japanese knotweed can:

  • deter buyers
  • provide buyers with an opportunity to reduce the price offered for a property
  • make the property more difficult to sell
  • potentially put off mortgage lender’s approving a loan unless a treatment plan is in place with an insurance backed guarantee.

As an example, The BBC One Show previously reported on the story of a couple who lost £250,000 on their family home due to Japanese Knotweed.

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed is a tall fast-growing Japanese plant with bamboo-like stems and small white flowers. It has been grown as an ornamental but tends to become an aggressive weed.

Japanese knotweed can grow up to 70cm+ per week, and because of this rapid growth, it is capable of causing damage to building structures by targeting weak points, such as cracks in masonry, and attempting to grow through them.

It can spread, blocking drains, cracking tarmac and threatening the foundations of houses – and impacting property prices as a result.

Properties affected by knotweed currently face restricted mortgage choices and homeowners can struggle to sell, even in cases where the plant poses no practical threat.

Where is Japanese Knotweed most commonly located?

Often in properties located near to:

  • adjacent property / land (wasteland or infrequently managed land)
  • land near to car parks and lay-bys
  • water courses / banks
  • railway lines
  • areas where fly tipping occurs

How do I spot Japanese Knotweed?

  • Dense thickets of green, purple-speckled, bamboo-like stems up to three metres tall
  • Heart or shield-shaped leaves
  • Alternate leafing pattern along stems
  • Completely hollow stems that can be snapped easily
  • Tiny creamy white flowers August to October

What should I do if I suspect Japanese Knotweed?

Contact us and our highly recommended specialist solicitors can assist in assessing how, and who is to blame, for the Japanese Knotweed effecting your property.

Leading surveyors and treatment could be arranged at no cost to you if your case meets the solicitors criteria.

The general advice is as follows:

  • Do not try to dig it up: Tiny root fragments can regenerate into another plant
  • If you cut down the branches, dispose of them on-site.
  • Compost separately, preferably on plastic sheets
  • Do not take it to your local council dump. It needs specialist waste management
  • Do not dispose of it in the countryside. This is against the law
  • Do not spread the soil. Earth within seven horizontal metres of a plant can be contaminated
  • Take advice from the Invasive Non-Native Specialists Association (INNSA) or the Property Care Association (PCA) on local removal contractors. Many treatments don’t work.

Can you claim for Japanese Knotweed? Are there any legal ramifications?

Yes you can potentially make a no win no fee claim for Japanese Knotweed if certain criteria is met when the solicitor examines your case.

The solicitors will require photographs and further information which they will explain to you during the free initial consultation.

If you do not handle the presence of Japanese Knotweed you may be liable in civil claims and under the 2014 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, local councils or police forces can now issue a Community Protection Notice (CPN), forcing neighbours to take action, and fining them if they don’t.

You may also be able to claim against the source of your problem for proximate nuisance. Judges at the Court of Appeal found against Network Rail due to Japanese Knotweed encroaching on somebody else’s property.

Network Rail were liable because knotweed had encroached onto properties. No damages had occurred but the encroachment was enough for a claim to succeed

What are the latest updates on Japanese Knotweed?

There is pressure on mortgage lenders to change their stance on Japanese Knotweed.

In a 2019 report from Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, they said that UK mortgage lenders have taken an “overly cautious” approach to the plant and advised changes should be made to update the rules surrounding it.

It advised information on the plant should still be included on a seller’s property information form, but it shouldn’t be such an important factor when it comes to mortgage lending decisions.

Time will tell what impact these recommendations have upon property prices and lenders decisions.

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