Japanese knotweed is a plant that was brought to the UK from Japan in the nineteenth century. It’s a problem for homeowners because its root systems can damage structures such as foundations, drains and paving and it grows at a rapid rate (up to 10cm a day). It’s also very difficult to get rid of – especially if it’s widespread, so it’s vitally important to nip it in the bud (no pun intended).
What’s more it’s an offence to allow it to spread – a homeowner could face prosecution or could be sued by a neighbour if they fail to control it and it’s regarded as controlled waste (a bit like asbestos) so must be disposed of correctly – sticking it in the household garden waste would be a criminal offence!
Methods of control range from a course of herbicide treatments over several years to excavating and removing the affected areas – needless to say the costs of dealing with it can be high – upwards of £2000 for small areas.
Unsurprisingly the net result when it comes to selling is that buyers can be put off buying your home and it may not be worth what you thought. Be aware that surveyors who value homes for buyers will be on the look-out for Japanese knotweed and there is a question on the standard information form provided by sellers on any sale requiring them to state whether the property is affected. If you answer untruthfully “no” or “don’t know”, your buyer could come back to you to get compensation and possibly cancel the purchase contract.
Of course most buyers will need a mortgage to buy a home and lenders will assess whether they are prepared to lend against a property affected by Japanese knotweed on a case by case basis. The good news is that many lenders are prepared to lend provided that there is a treatment plan in place from an appropriately qualified specialist which is backed up by a guarantee. The bottom line is that if you think your property may be affected by Japanese knotweed you should get specialist advice.
If you need any advice on any conveyancing matter or would like a no obligation quote for buying or selling your home please get in touch. I can promise an efficient, personal and reasonably priced service.
Giles Van-Rees, Setfords Solicitors
Direct Dial: 01792 952016
Giles is a solicitor based in Swansea specialising in conveyancing and wills. His profile can be viewed at setfords.co.uk/ourpeople/profile/giles_van_rees/
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