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Japanese Knotweed – An invasive plant to fear?

16 February 2020

Emma Cornell

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed – An invasive plant to fear?

 

As we move towards Spring homeowners will be turning their attention to the garden and what is growing in it.  But what happens if unwanted plants are growing there which can cause damage to your property?

 

The most common opinion of Japanese Knotweed is to fear it if it is found to be growing on your land.

Japanese knotweed was described by the Environment Agency as "indisputably the UK's most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant". Its roots can infiltrate the ground below and around your home as far as 3 metres deep and 7 metres across, compromising the structure of any building above it.

 

As a result of its existence house prices can fall, it may be difficult to obtain a mortgage and if you are looking to sell, sellers could pull out of a purchase.  It is therefore a plant that needs to be taken seriously by all home owners.

 

All land owners have a duty to take steps to prevent avoidable damage to neighbouring properties. Therefore, home owners should identify whether there is Japanese Knotweed at their property.  If there is then a programme should be put in place to manage it.  Whilst it may be a costly process it could save the home owner money further down the line.  Home owners should not try to take eradication of it into their own hands as all parts of Japanese Knotweed and any soil contaminated with it are classified as controlled waste and must be removed by a licensed waste control operator.

 

It is not an offence for Japanese Knotweed to be present on your land but allowing it to grow onto your property may constitute a private nuisance under common law.  A landowner affected by Knotweed growth from a neighbouring property may be able to apply to court for an injunction requiring the neighbouring owner to eradicate the nuisance. Damages can also be claimed where physical damage has been caused to their property or the value of their property has decreased as a result of Knotweed being present.  This means that claims can prove to be very large.

 

If you were looking to sell your house where Japanese Knotweed has been present, then this would have to be declared to any future purchaser.  It is far better to be able to show to a perspective purchaser that a treatment plan has been undertaken by a suitably qualified expert and provide a certificate of its eradication.  A management plan may be the difference between a sale or not.

 

If your property has been affected by Japanese Knotweed or it is encroaching onto your land, we could help you claim compensation and advise you how to deal with the same. Call our Dispute Resolution team on 01302 965 250 to discuss your matter further.