What Are The Implications Of Japanese Knotweed?
One of the most dangerous and costly threats that can imperil selling your home in the UK is not subsidence, not dry rot, but a plant introduced as a decoration by Victorian gardeners over one hundred and fifty years ago.
Japanese Knotweed’s heart shaped leaves and white blossoms disguise the fact that it’s the UK’s most invasive plant. But why is it such a concern? What are the implications of Japanese Knotweed for home buyers?
Japanese Knotweed can spread remarkably quickly, and swiftly dominate a garden setting. Once established in a garden, it’s notoriously difficult to kill. Burning it, mowing it, treating it with weed killer – none of these will kill it, and can make it grow back stronger. It can regrow from a piece as small as a fingernail! It requires significant professional treatment, either by digging out the plant completely from the ground and removing all traces of it, or by treating it with strong herbicides over a course of two to three years. These processes are not only expensive but tricky, as Knotweed doesn’t just confine itself to the garden. While it can’t actually grow through concrete, like some claim, it can sneak through cracks in concrete, brick, or even grow directly through asphalt. That’s how the plant is now present in nearly every 10 square kilometres of the UK and impacting nearly five percent of homes, driving up homebuyers survey cost.
Knotweed And The Property Market
As Japanese Knotweed is so destructive and difficult to get rid of, it can have a serious impact on the value of your home and how you sell it. Mortgage lenders routinely decline to lend on homes with Knotweed unless you have a professional treatment plan with an insurance backed guarantee, and can lower the selling value of the home by up to fifteen percent.
If you have your heart set on a property with Knotweed, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world but you should be prepared for what you are taking on. Investigate a homebuyers survey cost to work out your best options for dealing with the problem. Has the weed infested the foundations, or can it be removed with less invasive methods? A professional Knotweed survey will determine any costs, any damage to the building, and whether it’s spreading to your neighbours. Knowing these, you can better negotiate a fairer price for the property. And don’t let the seller fob you off with promises that they’ll deal with it. Unless the work is carried out by a firm providing an insurance-backed guarantee and clear working standards, the mortgage lender will not accept it and you should just walk away.
Selling With Knotweed
Conversely, you may find yourself on the flipped version of this situation – trying to sell a property infested with Japanese Knotweed. Buyers would much rather buy a property free of Knotweed than have to pay the home buyers survey cost and then to pay removers to eradicate the plant.
As a seller, you are legally obliged to disclose the history of Japanese Knotweed on your property. If you decide to lie or cover up the history, if the buyers find the presence of Knotweed after purchase they can take you to court and you’ll be facing the legal costs of an expensive misrepresentation claim. Even though removing Knotweed is tricky and costly, it’s far better to have it dealt with than be taken to court. Once it has been removed, you must still tell the buyer that Knotweed was once there.
The Legality Of Knotweed
Besides the requirement of telling a buyer about the history of Knotweed on the property, it’s smart to be aware of the legal implications of the plant. While you are not obliged in the law to remove the plant, you can be found liable if the Japanese Knotweed on your property spreads to the properties of your neighbours. You could then be brought to proceedings in the Civil Courts to recoup monies spent on removal, as well as be liable for any loss in the value of the property and injunctions against allowing their property to be re-infested. On top of this, your local authority can serve you with a notice. This will give you a set period to remove any knotweed on your property. If you do not do this or fail to properly dispose of the Knotweed, you could face criminal charges.