Finding Japanese knotweed present on any property, especially if you’re considering buying or selling that property, can be a major headache. In this blog, we offer our 7 best tips for and advice to prospective house buyers and sellers alike, including information on what you can expect from mortgage lenders, where you stand legally, and most importantly a plan of action for Japanese knotweed removal.
Japanese knotweed in the UK started out as a decorative plant that was gifted by a German physician and botanist called Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold in the late 1840s. At the time, it was considered highly fashionable thanks to its unusual heart shaped leaves and pretty white floral blooms.
A simple Japanese knotweed survey will establish if Japanese knotweed is present on your property. It’s worth noting that a property is still considered as affected by knotweed if it’s found either inside the boundaries, close to the boundaries or on adjacent properties. So if your neighbouring land has a knotweed problem, you’ll need to come up with a joint knotweed management plan together.
An estate agent with a keen eye may well be able to help you point out Japanese knotweed on the show around. However, since there are a few lookalike (but harmless) plants, you’re generally better off getting an expert in. That way, you’ll confirm its presence, as well as how much it’s spread.
If you do identify a problem and are wondering how to get rid of Japanese knotweed, then we don’t advise trying to fix the problem yourself. You can read about why not in our blog on this very topic.
There have been several reports in the media about how Japanese knotweed reduces the value of your house. Indeed, thanks to the structural damage that Japanese knotweed is capable of, the value of an affected property can decrease.
A buyer wishing to purchase a house or building with knotweed could well find mortgage lenders reluctant to offer finance. To overcome this, a full specialist treatment plan for Japanese knotweed removal is usually required, along with an insurance backed guarantee that the problem is being dealt with efficiently. The idea is to completely safeguard the home against Japanese knotweed for a good number of years. The conveyancing stage then guarantees potential legal action to the seller won’t happen later on.
Any UK property seller will be asked to list Japanese knotweed in a specific form known as the TA6 property information form. The TA6 form offers some security for the buyer, in that if a seller doesn’t declare Japanese knotweed, and it’s later found to have a detrimental effect on the house, they can potentially be taken through a legal case for misrepresentation on sale. A TA6 property form gives confidence and assurance to the prospective buyer. New builds also include a homebuyer report to flag any issues that need urgent action, including Japanese knotweed.
An assessment framework by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) establishes four key categories of the threats that Japanese knotweed poses. This official guidance is the primary source that mortgage lenders, building societies and banks look at when accounting for knotweed in a property, as well as what solutions the seller offering. If your property is classified as level 3 or 4 on the assessment framework, PCA approved Japanese knotweed companies are a necessity.
In order for a mortgage to be released, the price of the house must first be established, and in order to price the house, a knotweed management plan must be outlined by the PCA approved company. Usually, there will be an agreed period of 5 years, including 2 years of assessments to ensure no evident regrowth. The Japanese knotweed allocated company should then offer a guarantee against their work. This management plan is offered up to the lender. Some lenders may expect Japanese knotweed treatment to start prior to conveyancing, others at different stages of the purchase. Japanese knotweed specialists are experienced at helping prospective home owners through the process to get them through to exchange.
Legally, Japanese knotweed is an issue, but it depends on who for. The Environment Agency Code of Practice states that ‘it is not an offence to have knotweed on your land’. That said, if neighbouring land has a knotweed problem and isn’t acting on it, property rights can be affected. This involves a law known as ‘private nuisance’. If homeowners don’t take action on Japanese knotweed on their property and it impacts on the buying and selling, or mortgage loan of another person’s home, there could be a case for a claim.
There are case studies on the legal implications of Japanese knotweed, which you can read about here.
The good news is that, by hiring a PVA approved company to control and deal with the spread of Japanese knotweed, you can not only appease mortgage lenders but also avoid any conflict with your neighbours, who obviously may also wish to preserve the value of their home.
If you’re concerned about Japanese knotweed, it’s a good idea to get a professional survey (link to . A company like Japanese knotweed specialists will be able to identify if the problem according to the guidelines set out by the RICS and will put together an appropriate plan moving forwards. If you aren’t sure about whether you have it but don’t wish to book a survey just yet, why not photograph your plant and email it to us (link to email) for a no-obligation confirmation either way?
If you’re buying a property with Japanese knotweed, it’s really important that you understand it’s now your responsibility to keep on top of. Acknowledging that if it spreads to neighbouring land, it could mean a bigger problem for both of you. Equally, if it originated from your neighbour, it’s worth keeping in good communication to work out solutions amicably.
Thinking of Japanese knotweed as something that can potentially decrease the value of your home, or even make it unsellable, should be incentive to keep a close eye on it. The damage can be extensive yet unseen, with underground roots potentially growing several metres into drains and foundations. By having a professional survey done, you’ll be able to assess the true extent of the problem.
Pretending you don’t know you had Japanese knotweed is never advisable. Not only is it unethical to the new owners if you’re selling your house, you could get into a legal battle later if they discover the weed has become a major issue. As a buyer, you need to safeguard your property against damage later on, even if the knotweed isn’t invading your boundaries yet. Understanding your mortgage lenders requirements and working with a professional Japanese knotweed removal company will help you map out a plan.
You can completely remove the headache of Japanese knotweed by employing a reputable company to take care of the whole process for you. The right company will take full responsibility for the Japanese knotweed management and control, meaning you’re free to focus on the many other aspects of buying or selling a house.
There are several companies that will help you manage your Japanese knotweed problem. We recommend choosing one that suits your exact needs. Japanese Knotweed specialists:
– Are members of the Property Care Association (PCA) and Invasive Weed Control Group (IWG)
– Give competitive prices
– Offer solutions and JKW removal to both residential and commercial properties
– Use expert contractors in your area, providing work for local people
– Offer a live reporting and scheduling system so you’re always in the loop
– Serve our customers across England and Wales
– Use all the latest technologies to ensure full and complete removal of Japanese knotweed
– Give 5 and 10 year PCA and RICS approved guarantees that are accepted by mortgage lenders
Remember, this plant is extremely invasive and fast-growing. Dealing with it sooner is always the better option to reduce the risk of long term damage to your home, neighbourly relationships and saleability later on.
Having a treatment plan for Japanese knotweed removal is always the best course of action and we’re on hand to help with all stages of the process. If you’re worried about any aspect of Japanese knotweed interfering with your property, then give us a call on 0800 031 8081 or fill out our contact form and one of our friendly team will be in straight touch.