McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

Japanese Knotweed

What is Japanese Knotweed and is it something to be concerned about if found on your property?

Mature Japanese Knotweed canes can be identified by their distinctive purple speckle and can stand as high as three metres tall. Japanese Knotweed lies dormant in winter but spring sees its reddish-pink buds starting to sprout from a lime-green bamboo-like stem. When summer arrives it can grow a foot a week with some ending up seven feet or higher, strangling other plant life in the garden.

This plant can knock thousands of pounds off the value of the home, and may make buying, selling and remortgaging a nightmare. Until the property is certified clear of the weed there will be an effect on its saleability and value. In worst cases, it will devalue the property or be deemed ‘unmortgageble’.

Knotweed is known to cause damage to the building but it may not be immediately obvious. The real devastation is underground. The pressure exerted by the expanding roots can split structures along weak points and push up through car parks and drives where the asphalt has been poorly laid. In its search for moisture, the weeds can interfere with drainage pipes and other structures, blocking and sometimes lifting the pipe work and clogging sumps. Other underground infrastructures which are at risk are cabling and water pipes.

If it is found on the property you are buying, you will need to understand the liabilities it presents, as it will be your responsibility as the new owner. Has the knotweed encroached the neighbouring property from the land which will become yours? If so, then you are at risk of a legal claim in “private nuisance” from your neighbour. Furthermore, if you have caused the knotweed on your property to spread into the wild, this would contravene the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). It is accepted that the distance Japanese Knotweed can spread underground is a maximum of 7m.

As a result of the weed, you may experience difficulties in securing a mortgage on the property if it is affected by Knotweed as some lenders will reject any property outright for this reason. Others take a more pragmatic view. They will still allow you to lend, however, as a condition of the lending the knotweed must be eradicated by a reputable firm and that appropriate insurance backed guarantees are provided.

Getting rid of the weed is a job for professionals and can cost several thousand pounds. Any firm you hire should be a member of the Property Care Association and offer a guarantee the weed will not return – most lenders insist on this guarantee before making a mortgage offer.

There is no law that states who is liable for the costs of removing the weeds, therefore it is for the Buyer and the Seller to agree who will pay for the weed’s removal.

If you dig up or cut down and remove the plant yourself, this material will be classed as waste and you will need to take it to a licensed landfill site which has the facilities to deal with it accordingly.This can be very expensive also. Please note if you dispose of it elsewhere, you will have contravened the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

McHale & Co have offices in Altrincham, Stretford and Heywood. If you are buying or selling a property please get in touch by email at mch@mchaleandco.co.uk or by phone 0161 928 3848.

 

Categories: Conveyancing

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