Japanese knotweed was first introduced to the UK from Japan in 1825 as an ornamental plant and it is easy to see why, it is not unattractive. However, nearly two centuries on and despite a number of initiatives and restrictions being in place to prevent the spread of the plant, its presence is still causing major headaches for property owners and purchasers.
The plant is highly invasive and extremely difficult to control. A hidden underground mass of roots enable it to thrive even when all parts above ground are removed. It can cover a large area to the exclusion of all other species and has been known to grow through foundations and even house floors. A recent case highlighted by the national media reported how a couple saw their new build four-bedroom house reduce in value from £300,000 to approximately £50,000 overnight following the discovery of Japanese Knotweed growing extensively underground on the site. This only serves to emphasise the potential risk for homeowners, prospective purchasers and mortgage lenders alike.
As a result, mortgage lenders often take a cautious stance with regards to lending money when Japanese Knotweed has been identified.
Although it may not always seem a blessing to the vendor when it crops up in a survey, early identification of the problem is essential. Any comprehensive survey report will contain a small section which confirms that the appropriate checks have been carried out. If signs of the weed are established, the following steps should be followed:
If you are purchasing or selling a property
Evidence of Japanese Knotweed does not necessarily need to signal the end of a property transaction. However if it is identified in a survey, only demonstrating to the mortgage lender that there is minimal risk of the weed causing damage to the structure of the house in the future, will move the transaction forward. This can be undertaken by the vendor, purchaser, or both.
If you own or manage properties
Whether you own or a manage property, protecting the value of the asset will be high on your list of priorities. With this in mind, if Japanese Knotweed is located, immediate action is necessary to ensure potential damage is minimised in order to avoid jeopardising any future sale.
Whether you’re purchasing, selling, or you own or manage a property that has Japanese Knotweed, the best possible way of managing and dealing with this problem will be through a sensible and pragmatic approach to understand the extent of the problem; and if necessary, appoint the appropriate experts to control or eliminate the risk.
Finnegan Property Services are independent Chartered Building Surveyors who undertake condition, purchaser, and vendor surveys. We offer advice on the management, control, and eradication of Japanese Knotweed. If you would like to discuss any of the issues covered in this blog contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3137 8078.
Posted on 2 October, 2015