If you are thinking of buying or selling a property, the presence of Japanese Knotweed in the vicinity could seriously thwart your plans. Whilst there is no blanket policy for mortgage lenders which prevents them from lending on properties which have Japanese Knotweed, there has been some historical reluctance to lend given the difficulty in treating the weed and the damage it can cause.
Japanese Knotweed was introduced into Britain in the 19th century as an ornamental plant. It is a highly invasive species of plant which can grow a metre in a month and can cause heave below concrete and tarmac, coming up through the resulting cracks and damaging buildings and roads.
The presence of knotweed is often discovered during a residential valuation report and valuers are required by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Red Book Guidance to indicate the presence of “invasive vegetation”.
Japanese Knotweed is one of over 30 plants that it is an offence to “plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild” under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The police are responsible for investigating offences and each police force has a wildlife liaison officer who can be contacted. The Environment Agency is responsible for ensuring that knotweed waste is managed and disposed of in accordance with the Knotweed Code of Practice.
However, there is no need to let knotweed defeat you. Your solicitor can help you come up with a plan of action to buy or sell your property.
The best approach is transparency. If you become aware that there may be knotweed within seven metres of the property, your solicitor should notify your mortgage lender. Your lender will instruct a specialist valuer to assess the risk.
Usually, a mortgage company will only lend if you can demonstrate that you have organised a treatment schedule and show a completion certificate that confirms the weed has been remediated with minimum 10 year guarantee. You will need to consult the local authority before considering chemical control or physical control.
If the Japanese Knotweed is on a neighbouring property your solicitor can approach the landowner to discuss treatment amicably and advise you on your legal position.
For more information, contact Ansons head of residential property, Julie Tomasik on 01543 267 988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .