Japanese knotweed – knot your problem?16/02/2023
Japanese knotweed recently made headlines yet again as a furniture designer who found the undeclared plant growing at his property successfully sued the seller, winning £32,000 in damages and leaving the previous homeowner with a £200,000 court bill.
So, if you’re buying or selling a home and haven’t yet heard of the notorious plant causing havoc to structures across the country, then it may be time to educate yourself.
Originally introduced to the UK in the early 19th century as a highly prized and sought after plant, Japanese knotweed is now listed as one of the world’s most invasive species by the World Conservation Union.
Not only does it spread rapidly, with the ability to grow 10cm per day, but it also causes huge damage to building structures by targeting weak spots and attempting to grow through it.
It can be both expensive and time consuming to get rid of and, while you don’t legally have to remove the plant from your land, you can be prosecuted if you cause it to spread into the wild.
As anyone who has bought or sold a house before will know, the process includes a lot of documents to read and sign.
One such document is the Property Information Form which has standard questions for sellers, including one which asks if there is Japanese knotweed at the property.
It is imperative that you only answer “no” if you have made specific investigations into this and can categorically say there is none at all.
If no investigations have been made but you’re not aware of any knotweed, then you must still answer “don’t know”, otherwise you could find yourself liable if any is later found at the property.
It’s no surprise that moving house regularly tops the list in surveys as one of the most stressful things you can do in life, with the length of the process and unrest to a routine all contributing to a feeling of lack of control.
Whether or not you’re landed with a hefty compensation claim due to unintentionally misrepresenting yourself, however, is something you can control.