Japanese Knotweed – a ‘knot’ to consider

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What is the problem with Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese knotweed is a plant that can cause serious damage to buildings if left untouched.

It is a weed with roots that can extend up to 3 metres in depth, 7 metres in direction and can grow up at a rate of a yard per week. As a home owner, property developer or potential purchaser, knotweed poses a serious threat to a property; its roots can have a damaging effect on building foundations and drains and the presence of it alone can cause a diminution to the value of the land even.

Lenders are cautious with properties affected by the weed and some lenders will reject a mortgage application if the property is reported to have Japanese Knotweed. Due to the damage the weed can cause, lenders are concerned that a property with or damaged by Japanese knotweed may not be good security for a mortgage as the property is at high risk of damage posed by the plant which can also affect the ability of the property being sold in the future.

In short, you do not you want Japanese Knotweed on or near your property.

What can you do if you have Japanese Knotweed?

If you identify Japanese Knotweed on your property it is important that you try and control it and make sure it does not spread onto your neighbours land. If you struggle to contain or exterminate it you can seek help from professionals who can treat it.

The process is long and can take around 3 years to treat Japanese Knotweed. Therefore if you become aware of the weed it is suggested that you commence treating it immediately.

You do not have to remove Japanese Knotweed from your land but if you fail to stop it from spreading to anyone else’s property you could face prosecution for causing a nuisance to the neighbouring land.

My property has Japanese Knotweed, what liability do I have to my neighbour?

You are not obliged to control, remove or treat Japanese Knotweed on your land. However, you may be liable should the presence of the weed cause the neighbouring property to decease in value and if it spreads on to a neighbouring property.

(1) The spread of Japanese Knotweed onto a neighbour’s land

If the weed spreads onto your neighbour’s land, they can issue proceedings in the Civil Courts for private nuisance, requesting that you remove the weed and pay the costs of removal. Your neighbour may also request the Court award damages for the loss of enjoyment and diminution of value of their land.

A private nuisance is an act or omission which is an interference with, disturbance of or an annoyance to a person in the exercise of his ownership or occupation of land. Nuisance extends to include encroachment on to neighbouring land as in the case of tree roots or overhanging breaches, which cross a boundary.

(2) You can still be liable for the presence of the weed on your land

If the weed is present but has not yet spread on to your neighbours land, you may still be at risk of claim being brought against you.

Japanese knotweed weed may prevent a neighbour mortgaging their property, reduce the value of their property for sale and/or warn off new buyers having an impact and generally reduce the value of the land. The presence of knotweed is sufficient for your neighbour to claim, even if no damage or growth to the property has occurred, for the reduction in the value of their land due to the fact that the weed is in the vicinity of their property and their land is at risk of damage that the plant may cause in the future.

(3) Local Authority action

Be warned- your local authority has (in most cases) the power to serve Notice on an occupier of land containing the weed, requiring them to remedy and/or remove the knotweed. If the occupier fails to adhere to the requirements in the notice can lead to criminal liability.

If you have any concerns about your neighbour, your rights, liability or any property litigation matter then it is recommended that you contact Aileigh Brough at Meaby & Co for timely advice: abrough@meaby.co.uk or call 0207 703 5034.

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