Japanese knotweed: A property purchase red flag

Presence of Japanese knotweed can result in a reduction in the value of a property and require specialist management and treatment. We look at the problems.

Japanese knotweed leaves and bud to signify damage to property and residential purchase.

The issues regarding Japanese knotweed and residential properties have recently come back into media focus when, last month, a seller was successfully sued for damages for failing to disclose its existence at their property, landing them with a £200,000 court bill.

What is Japanese knotweed?

Introduced into Britain in the 19th century, largely planted on railway embankments, Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant, that can grow in most soil conditions found in the UK.

Why is it a problem?

Japanese knotweed spreads through root growth and can infest and cause structural damage to properties, growing in some cases up to four metres in ten weeks. Presence of Japanese knotweed can result in a reduction in the value of a property by up to 15% and requires specialist management and treatment. It can routinely take three years to treat.

Individuals can also be prosecuted for causing Japanese knotweed to spread.

“Is the property affected by Japanese knotweed?”

This is a standard question asked of a seller in the Property Information Form, one of the forms comprising the contract pack provided to a buyer, and their solicitor, during the course of a property sale transaction.

Any seller should give careful consideration to their response to this question to ensure the information being provided is accurate and not misleading. The consequences of an incorrect answer can be costly.

Providing the right information

Sellers have the option to answer either ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘not known’.

It is worth noting that a property is still considered to be affected by Japanese knotweed if it is found either inside the boundaries, close to the boundaries, or on adjacent properties.

If sellers are aware of the presence of knotweed, either at the property or nearby, they should disclose this information to any potential buyer by answering ‘yes’.

Sellers should consider having a professional Japanese knotweed survey carried out before being confident enough to answer ‘no’.

If a seller is in any doubt over the presence of knotweed, or are not qualified to confirm either way, their answer should be ‘not known’.

Seek advice

A property sale can be complicated by a number of red flags, such as the presence of Japanese knotweed. Taking the right advice is key. Please contact us on 020 8944 5290 if you would like our expert team to assist on any property related queries.

This article was written by Sophie Button

Please note the contents contained in this article are for general guidance only and reflection the position at time of posting. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters.

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