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.
Since then, experts have realised how invasive it can be, and now, it can affect your mortgage lending and the speed at which a house purchase can complete.
A simple Japanese knotweed survey will establish if Japanese knotweed is present on a potential 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. If the neighbouring land has a knotweed problem, then the seller, or agent acting on their behalf and their existing neighbour is the one who will be liable to remedy this.
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 has 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 post 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 is offering. If your property is classified as level 3 or 4 on the assessment framework, PCA-approved Japanese knotweed companies are a necessity.
Ideally, a home should be knotweed free before you buy one, whether you make it a requirement of purchase that it is removed, or the seller removes it. However, if a mortgage is approved and you are aware of the extent of the problem, then the choice is very much how much you are prepared to do to remedy the situation.
If you’re concerned about Japanese knotweed, it’s a good idea to get a professional survey done. Japanese Knotweed Specialists will be able to identify the problem, according to the guidelines set out by the RICS and will put together an appropriate plan moving forward.
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, or even eradicate Japanese knotweed. 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.
Pretending you don’t know you have Japanese knotweed is never advisable.
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 lender’s requirements and working with a professional Japanese knotweed removal company will help you map out a plan.
To satisfy a mortgage lender, you may need to hire, or agree to hire, a professional expert to remove knotweed. Japanese Knotweed Specialists are adequately placed to fulfil this as we: