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Housing Solicitors

Japanese Knotweed: Menace to Property? (5 July 2018)

Date: 05/07/2018
Duncan Lewis, Housing Solicitors, Japanese Knotweed: Menace to Property?

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed is an extremely invasive plant with a bamboo like stem which can spread rapidly causing damage to building foundations, wall structures, and paving.

It was imported to the UK in the 19th century following its discovery in Japan; it was named the “most interesting new ornamental plant of the year” in 1847 by the Society of Agriculture and Horticulture at Utrecht in Holland. By the end of the century, it was discovered that this invasive plant was growing into the wild damaging land, buildings, and the wildlife.

It was dubbed “Hancock’s curse” after properties prices in Cornwall would drop in value by £100 (around £10,000 now) due to its presence.

Legal Issues with Japanese Knotweed

Under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is a civil and criminal offence to allow Japanese Knotweed to grow in the wild. Japanese Knotweed removal should always be undertaken by a professional to ensure guaranteed removal - DIY removal may not completely remove the weed and can cause further spreading.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 states that all Knotweed soil and material is classed as controlled waste and must be disposed of at a licensed landfill site. Removing Japanese Knotweed is an expensive and time consuming process. It is advised that a specialist is hired to properly remove the plant as the plant may quickly re-infest the land if not removed properly.

The physical damage Japanese Knotweed has to the land and buildings can cause the following adverse effects to circumstances surrounding the property:

  • Most local authorities will refuse planning permission with properties on affected areas;

  • Many mortgage lenders will refuse to lend on a house where Japanese Knotweed has been identified within 7 metres of the property;

  • Insurability of a property with Japanese Knotweed will be increasingly difficult; and

  • The value of the affected property will drop.

Should the Knotweed spread to a neighbouring property, the owner of the neighbouring property is entitled to claim damages for costs of any treatment/removal costs and devaluation to their property. Neighbours are entitled to claim damages for diminution of value or any loss suffered as a result of the Japanese Knotweed, injunction against re-infestation, and costs of removal.

When selling a house, the Law Society Property Information Form ensures that the solicitor checks where a property is/or has been affected by Japanese Knotweed. It is important that the plant is declared as this could give rise to negligence claims. If it is not known, the purchaser’s solicitors should enquire for further information - such as requiring a specialist to be instructed to assess whether the Property does have infected areas.

The Duncan Lewis Social Housing and Property Litigation department can assist you if:

  • You were not properly advised when buying a property and have suffered a loss due to the presence of Japanese Knotweed;

  • If your neighbour has Japanese Knotweed on their property and has allowed it to grow onto yours; and

  • If you are a neighbour, seller, surveyor or solicitor with potential Japanese Knotweed negligence claims against you.

Author Zoe Wright is a Caseworker in the Housing Law Department at Duncan Lewis. Based in the Harrow office she works with a team of housing Solicitors, Trainees and Caseworkers under the supervision of Director Manjinder Kaur Atwal. She assists the team with day-to-day case progression on matters including; homelessness matters such as appeals and reviews; Suitability reviews and Eviction matters.

For expert advise please contact Director Manjinder on manjindera@duncanlewis.com or 020 3114 1269.

Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors

If you have neighbours whose behaviour is disruptive and having a negative impact on your life, and attempts to discuss the issue with them have been unsuccessful, Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors may be able to help. Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors can guide clients in any matter or issues arising with local housing authorities, housing applications, tenants, landlords, ownership and repairs. The Duncan Lewis housing team specialises in representation in all social housing proceedings including reviews, appeals and judicial review relating to homelessness, disrepair, succession for tenants and neighbourhood disputes against local authorities.

If you have any housing related queries or require representation please do not hesitate to contact our team of expert solicitors on 0333 772 0409.

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