Japanese Knotweed is a fast growing plant that is known widely for its aggressive effects on property. During the summer months it can grow as much as 10-20cm per day and is capable of cracking through concrete and cavity walls as well as pushing up through drains.
Although we are now heading into the winter months, when it starts to die off, it is important that homeowners and buyers keep a look out for signs that Japanese Knotweed is present. During the colder months the plant can look very similar to the wilderness that surrounds it making it difficult to spot. However, once spring comes back around it will no longer remain dormant and will start to grow and cause numerous problems for the homeowner.
Whilst it is not an offence to have Japanese Knotweed in your garden it is the legal responsibility of the homeowner to prevent the plant from spreading from their land onto the neighbouring land. If the plant does spread onto neighbouring land the homeowner responsible could face a fine of up to £2,500 if they are an individual or £20,000 if they are an organisation. The homeowner could also be served with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) for the failure to deal with the problem.
Its presence can also be a problem when selling a property as the presence of Japanese Knotweed can decrease the value of a home by up to 50%. As well as this it makes obtaining a mortgage extremely difficult for prospective buyers with many lenders refusing to lend or placing a 100% retention of the mortgage advance until a suitable management plan is in place.
In February this year a county court judgement showed the way the courts are moving in respect of Japanese Knotweed. In this case a homeowner sued Network Rail for his inability to sell his home because of the presence of Japanese Knotweed on the embankment nearby. After a four day hearing the Judge decided in favour of the homeowner stating that the presence of the plant had devalued the property.
How to deal with Japanese Knotweed
Unlike other plants and weeds Japanese Knotweed cannot simply be removed by cutting it down, burning it or killing the roots with weed killers. An effective treatment plan can be put into place with specialist removal companies and these can cost anywhere between £5,000 – £10,000.
It is therefore important for any prospective buyer to look out for the presence of Japanese Knotweed not only on the property they are looking to purchase, but also the surrounding area. Likewise, for homeowners, it is vital to deal with the Japanese Knotweed sooner rather than later to avoid problems with the foundations of their property.
For more information on Japanese Knotweed when selling or purchasing a property, please contact our Conveyancing team on 0161 475 7676.