Japanese KnotweedAny seller or buyer will see a question in the standard Property Information Form (TA6) at question 7.8, “Is the property affected by Japanese Knotweed?”, and you may wonder why this has become an issue.

The reason that this particular question is important is because Japanese Knotweed is classed as a controlled waste under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (the EPA). This classification means that you must follow the EPA rules and it can only be disposed of in special landfill sites.

It is also very difficult to eradicate and can lie dormant for years. Treatment varies from spraying and injecting the plant to digging down a few meters to ensure that all roots have been removed, removing topsoil and then placing a protective membrane over the top and covering with fresh soil or rubble. Treatment has to be timed in accordance with the plant’s growth and flowering cycle. What ever treatment is used, specialist firms would probably need to complete the eradication and of course this will have a cost implication.

Failure to deal with the presence or growth of Japanese knotweed so that it impacts on neighbours or communities could leave you at risk of receiving a Community protection notice under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014. This could result in a fine or an anti social behaviour order. If the Japanese knotweed is allowed to spread onto neighbouring land, your neighbours could make a claim against you for nuisance.

You are supposed to disclose the presence of Japanese Knotweed on the TA6, but you may not even know what it looks like! Whilst the seller is obliged to disclose the presence of this plant, it is notoriously difficult to identify, therefore as a buyer it is difficult to rely upon what the seller says. The government has a dedicated advice page which includes information on how to identify the Knotweed as well as how to deal with it if you do have it, it is advisable to consider this when buying or selling a property:

https://www.gov.uk/japanese-knotweed-giant-hogweed-and-other-invasive-plants

If you are looking to buy a property, you should also ask your surveyor to investigate for evidence of Japanese Knotweed.

Fitzhugh Gates Solicitors Comment

Until recently many mortgage lenders would refuse to lend against a property with Japanese Knotweed, but some lenders are now willing to lend, on the proviso that you provide a management plan to deal with the control and eradication of the plant. The lender might also insist that a monetary retention is made to ensure that the problem is treated. Given the costs and time involved in controlling and eradicating the Knotweed, if found on or close to your property, it is possible that this will have an adverse effect on the value of it.

We at Fitzhugh Gates have experience in dealing with properties with Japanese Knotweed and are happy to deal with the legal and practical implications whether acting for the seller or buyer.

By Holly Clunie - Conveyancing Executive


Important guidance on articles published by Fitzhugh Gates Solicitors

All articles published through this website contain only general advice and are not intended as professional counsel and should not be used as such.

If you require specific advice with respect to any particular issue or problem highlighted by this article or any other matter, then please contact Fitzhugh Gates, the Solicitors for Brighton and Hove and Shoreham-by-Sea. 


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