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A homeowner from London has claimed nearly £30,000 after Japanese knotweed, the invasive plant introduced to the UK in the mid1800's, encroached onto their property from one of their neighbours. Knotweed has a long history of devaluing homes up and down the country as a result of its deep, fast-growing root system damaging surrounding land.

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Since its introduction to the UK in the 19th century, Japanese knotweed has been a real nuisance for people, businesses, buildings and the environment. As a result of its devastating and invasive nature, it has caused hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of pounds worth of damage to roads, infrastructure and local ecosystems, resulting in tremendous amounts of repair work and logistical nightmares.

This has lead to several legislative movements with laws put in place here in the UK to control the spread of Japanese knotweed, focusing on how it is stored, destroyed and reproduced. Since these laws have passed, people and businesses across the UK now understand how they are able to manage knotweed and what options are available to them if they were to come across, but are these laws the same across other countries?

We’re here to find out! So, read on to learn about how Japanese knotweed is controlled and managed throughout the world.

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Because Japanese knotweed is such a big problem here in the UK, there are strict laws in place to limit the spread of this invasive plant species. But what exactly are these laws, and when were they introduced?

House of Commons chamber

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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Some people may look at Japanese knotweed as a beautiful, ornamental plant. After all, that's one of the reasons it was brought to the country in the first place! Planting Japanese knotweed on your property is forbidden for a number of reasons. However, when you realise how damaging Japanese knotweed can be, you'll probably wish you never considered planting it anyway.

You'll remember from our blog - What Damage Can Japanese Knotweed Do? - that Japanese knotweed can make it difficult to sell your home, can cause structural damage to buildings and roads and can even disrupt cables and block drains. This plant is likely to cause you a great deal of hassle, so why you'd want to plant it is a mystery!

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If you have Japanese knotweed on your land, you're not obliged to destroy it, but it is your responsibility to ensure that this invasive weed doesn't spread to anybody else's property. Should the plant spread on your watch, you may find yourself liable from a legal standpoint.

So what happens when there's Japanese knotweed on land adjoining yours? Should you just sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that you'll be entitled to compensation if the owner of the neighbouring plot allows their knotweed to encroach on your property?

Well, that's not what we recommend. Far better to take action now and make sure you're covered if the knotweed next door becomes your problem as well.

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Japanese knotweed has been plaguing homeowners since the 19th century and it doesn't look like it'll be slowing down anytime soon. Landowners who leave Japanese knotweed untreated are usually the root cause of the problem. One minute the Japanese knotweed is contained to their land, and the next it crops up in all the gardens in the street! 

If you find Japanese knotweed on your property (and you know you didn't put it there), then the first thing that you'll want to get to the bottom of is where it came from and who's responsible for it. Japanese knotweed can cause structural damage, reduce the value of your home and is expensive to remove so there's no doubt that you'll want to make a compensation claim as soon as possible. 

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Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweed causes a lot of problems in the UK, but you might be surprised to learn that this invasive species is NOT notifiable.

This means that, if you find Japanese knotweed in your garden, you are NOT legally required to notify the authorities. It is not an offence to have Japanese knotweed on your property as long as you are not allowing it to spread.

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Garden spades in the soil

We usually treat Japanese knotweed by spraying the leaves with herbicides. A typical knotweed treatment programme consists of multiple herbicide applications over a period of 3 years, followed by a 2-year monitoring period to ensure that the problem is under control.

If time is of the essence, excavation is a quicker (but more expensive) alternative to the above. Heavy excavation machinery is used to dig up the affected area; this may be combined with spraying for optimum results.

Learn more about our Japanese knotweed treatment plans

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The TA6 form's Japanese knotweed question was revised in February 2020. Now, when selling a property, you can only answer 'no' if you are certain there is no Japanese knotweed within 3 metres of the property boundary.

In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the recent TA6 form change and what it means for buyers and sellers.

Filling out a form

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A row of terraced houses

Selling a house whose garden is infested with Japanese knotweed is a tricky proposition. Japanese knotweed can have a big impact on the value of a property, and make your home considerably less desirable in the eyes of potential buyers.

It may be tempting to just play dumb and pretend you're unaware of the invasive species in your back garden, but if you conceal the fact that there is Japanese knotweed on a property you're selling, you may be breaking the law.

Whether you're a homeowner or an estate agent, here are some tips to help you complete the sale AND stay on the right side of the law.

 

First, make sure it actually IS Japanese knotweed.

If you think there's Japanese knotweed on a property you're trying to sell, your first course of action should be to call an expert.

Note that Japanese knotweed looks quite similar to a number of other plants and weeds - including bindweed, Russian vine, broadleaf dock and ground elder - so we recommend contacting a Japanese knotweed specialist and asking them to carry out a survey of your property.

An experienced professional will be able to confirm whether or not you have a Japanese knotweed problem and advise you on what to do next.

READ MORE: How to Identify Japanese Knotweed

 

Be honest.

Japanese knotweed isn't technically classified as a 'notifiable weed', but since 2013, the Law Society's TA6 form includes a specific question on the subject of Japanese knotweed. Failure to disclose information relating to a knotweed infestation on your property can be deemed a breach of Consumer Protection Rights regulations.

Naturally, such a transgression can have legal ramifications, providing solid grounds for misrepresentation and potentially leaving you open to a lawsuit. So it's best to be honest and upfront about the issue during the entire selling process.

 

Look for a guarantee.

If it turns out that you do indeed have Japanese knotweed on your property, it's important to take action as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the worse the problem get.

Mortgage lenders can be extremely hesitant to lend the full amount if a property has Japanese knotweed, mainly because the plant can affect the building's structural integrity. However, lenders can be persuaded - you just need to take a proactive approach.

We recommend finding a Japanese knotweed removal specialist who offers a Japanese knotweed guarantee, i.e. a warranty that will safeguard you in the event that the infestation should return after treatment.

If you can demonstrate that appropriate removal measures have been implemented, this will potentially convince mortgage lenders to overlook the fact that you have Japanese knotweed on your property (or at last lead them to be more sympathetic to your situation).

READ MORE: Mortgages & Japanese Knotweed

 

Don't expect a quick fix.

Japanese knotweed control can be a lengthy process - several visits will be required, and a complete course of treatment often takes around three years. If you want to maximise your home's value, you may want to refrain from selling until after your knotweed problem has been eradicated.

That being said, if you really are in a rush to sell your house despite the presence of Japanese knotweed, you may be forced to take a hit on the sale price in exchange for speed of the sale. This might mean that lenders are put off, in which case you'll have to take the cash buyer route; as a result, you could see the sale price drop by up to 20% below market value.

 

Call the professionals.

Essentially, if you're serious about selling a house that has Japanese knotweed (and you don't fancy dealing with a lawsuit or slashing your sale price), your best option is to call in the pros and get to the root of the problem.

Here at Taylor Total Weed Control, we specialise in Japanese knotweed removal and have over 15 years' experience under our belts. For a long-term solution with an insurance-backed guarantee, Japanese knotweed removal from Taylor Weed Control is the smart choice for you and your property.

Contact us to request a FREE survey

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