With summer traditionally being a popular time in the property market, potential sellers are being warned to brush up on their horticultural knowledge following a recent landmark judgement which focused on the control of Japanese knotweed.
Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive, aggressive and destructive plant, able to grow as high as four metres in just a few months. Its roots can spread seven metres and with it being non-native to the UK, with no natural predators, it is able to cause significant structural damage, growing through asphalt and other hard surfaces, often compromising building structures. Getting rid of it is a costly and time-consuming business, involving specialist waste disposal, because simply digging up the roots is not enough to kill it.
Failure to prevent contaminated soil or plant material from Japanese Knotweed spreading can result in fines of up to £5,000 or imprisonment for two years and now a landmark court ruling has found that a landowner is responsible if they do not prevent the plant from spreading from their land to adjoining properties.
Neil Lloyd, Sales Director and Head of FBC Manby Bowdler’s Residential Property Team comments: “A recent case involving a group of homeowners in South Wales, saw them take action against Network Rail claiming that Japanese knotweed had grown into their gardens from adjoining railway sidings and despite it having been actively treated since 2008, its presence had nonetheless posed the potential to adversely affect the market value of nearby properties.
“Whilst this may appear extreme, the reality is that many mortgage lenders restrict their lending on properties that are affected by Japanese Knotweed and views on its impact on property prices extend as far as 50% reductions in overall value.
“The recent ruling in Wales serves to highlight the need for property owners to be aware of their responsibilities in controlling this plant and acting swiftly, with the appropriate expert input, to eradicate it."
"Likewise, if it’s growing on a neighbour’s property it is wise to speak with them promptly to seek a swift resolution and avoid its encroachment on to your own property – after all, it’s likely to be your biggest asset and should, therefore, be protected."