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The implications of Japanese Knotweed for a sale or purchase of a property

Sue Woodall, Director and Head of Astle Paterson’s Conveyancing department discusses the recent Government proposals ended to try to halt the spread of invasive non-native plants such as Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam.

In November 2014 the Government announced that home-owners who do not take appropriate action to control or eradicate Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam could be fined up to £2,500.00 or even be landed with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).

Japanese Knotweed can cause extensive structural damage to a property as it can grow through tarmac and concrete and it can grow up to 20 cm a day.  It is very difficult to eradicate completely and the cost of dealing with it can be very high.

Sue said “The total bill for eradication of Japanese Knotweed on the Olympic Village site in East London came to 10 million pounds!  If you are selling a property and you know that it is or has been affected by Japanese Knotweed, you must disclose this in the Property Information Form that forms part of the contract documents prepared by your Solicitor.

If you are buying a property which is affected by Japanese Knotweed this will have to be disclosed to your mortgage lender as the presence of the plant may affect the lender’s decision as to whether or not to grant a mortgage on the property.

Many lenders now follow the guidance issued by the RICS which classifies Japanese Knotweed into four categories and the lenders’ requirements will depend on which category the individual case falls into.

As I understand it categories 1 and 2 cover outbreaks where the Japanese Knotweed is on a neighbouring property only and the outbreak is more than seven metres from the main house, garage and/or permanent outbuildings.   In the case of category 1 and 2 the lender requires to be notified but generally no further action is required.

Categories 3 and 4 are where the weed is or has been located within seven metres of the main house, garage or permanent outbuildings or where it is present on the property and causing damage to paths, fences or boundary walls.  If the infestation is within category 3 or 4 then further investigation is required and this must be undertaken by a firm that is registered with an appropriate trade body.  All recommended remedial work must be carried out and covered by an insurance backed guarantee valid for a minimum of ten years.  In many cases, it will be necessary for repeat inspections to be carried out over a period of 3 years and any further growth re-treated.

The presence of Japanese Knotweed in a property should generally be detected during a survey or valuation and so this is one more reason why it makes sense to have a full survey carried out on a property you are buying even if you do not need a mortgage.”

The Conveyancing Team at Astle Paterson are on hand to give advice to all clients who encounter problems with their property sale or purchase (please contact us on conveyancing@astlepaterson.co.uk or on 01283 531366.)

If you are not sure whether that fast growing weed in the garden is Japanese Knotweed, we can show you photographs of the plant in its various growth stages and if there is an infestation we will help you to find a suitably qualified contractor to deal with it.

To find more information about Japanese Knotweed and other invasive plants on the UK Government website please click here.

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