Japanese Knotweed: Knot To Be Trifled With
- AuthorLiam Chantry
You have probably already heard of Japanese Knotweed in the news and the horrors it can cause to your property, from structural damage, neighbour disputes, issues getting a mortgage, as well as wiping thousands off the price of your property. If you are looking at buying or selling a home it is important that you are able to identify this weed, understand the potential issues it can cause, and also know what steps can be taken to limit the damage.
What is Japenese Knotweed?
Japanese Knotweed (or Fallopia Japonica) is an invasive non-native plant originating from Japan, Taiwan and northern China which was brought to the UK in the 19th century. It is known for its bamboo like stems, heart shaped leaves and, during the late summer, white flowers. During the winter, Knotweed will die back to ground level before starting the process again next year.
Japanese Knotweed can be very difficult to remove (usually taking several years to completely destroy) and is also known for growing up to 10cm a day in the summer months and as well as growing up to 3 metres tall and 7 metres in all directions.
Is Japenese Knotweed dangerous?
To humans? No. To your property? Yes.
Knotweed has been known to cause serious structural damage to properties. The Knotweed's rhizomes (a continuously growing horizontal underground stem which puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals) can grow over 2 metres underground through and around the foundations of a property. It is able to destroy patios, roads and even grow through cavity walls.
Knotweed can easily cross over boundaries into your neighbour's garden or into the countryside. If Knotweed grows into your neighbour's garden you may have to pay for the removal, restoration work and any associated legal fees and, if the issue persists, the court could even issue you with an injunction or Anti-Social Behaviour Order. Although it is not an offence to have Knotweed growing in your garden, it is a criminal offence to plant or "cause to grow" Knotweed "in the wild", which can occur if you allow the weed to grow out of control in your garden.
Due to the potential issues associated with Knotweed even the presence on your property is likely to reduce the value of the property by an average of 10%. Having Japanese Knotweed growing within 7 metres of your property can even cause a mortgage provider to refuse to lend on the property.
How to deal with Knotweed
If, when purchasing a property, it becomes apparent that Japanese Knotweed affects the property you must first consider whether you are willing to go ahead with the purchase. There is no simple answer to this and it will depend on whether you are willing to take on the responsibility. Your options in dealing with this could include offering a lower purchase price to take into account for the removal or requesting that the seller instructs a Knotweed removal company before the purchase.
If you are selling a property affected by Japanese Knotweed it is a requirement to disclose this on the Property Information Form (TA6). The buyer will also be notified by any survey they have on the property. To limit likely issues during a property transaction it is important to be pro-active when dealing with Japanese Knotweed and the best course of action would be to start the removal process before placing the property on the market.
Companies specialising in Knotweed removal are not only able to destroy it completely (usually with herbicide) they also provide a management plan and insurance backed guarantee in the case of it returning. This guarantee will usually be satisfactory for a mortgage company to provide funding.
If you have a property sale or purchase which is affected by Japanese Knotweed do not hesitate to contact a member of our Conveyancing Team and we will be happy to assist you.