If you've noticed Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) growing in your neighbour's garden - and your neighbour isn't doing anything about it - then you may be considering legal action.
Japanese knotweed is a non-native plant that grows very quickly, and if it's growing on or near your property, it can have a significant impact on that property's value. This Express article from January 2020 estimates that a knotweed infestation could reduce the value of the average UK home by as much as 10 per cent. To make matters worse, lenders are often reluctant to grant mortgages on properties that are affected by Japanese knotweed, which is more bad news if you're planning to sell.
So panic is an understandable response when there's Japanese knotweed next door. Recently, however, certain companies have been taking advantage of that panic, knocking on doors and encouraging homeowners to sue their neighbours for vastly inflated sums. 'Has your property been affected by Japanese knotweed?' is fast becoming the new 'Have you been mis-sold PPI?'
If you're seriously thinking about taking your neighbour to court, you should know that:
- It is not an offence to grow Japanese knotweed on your own private property, so your neighbour is under no legal obligation to remove the plant from their own garden
- However, they are responsible for ensuring that the plant does not spread into the wild - and if they allow the knotweed to spread onto your (or anyone else's) property, prosecution or a community protection notice may follow
- As a general rule, Japanese knotweed will only be a problem for mortgage lenders if it's within seven metres of your house
So can you sue your neighbour over a Japanese knotweed infestation? Well, yes - you may be entitled to seek compensation if your neighbour has failed to prevent the plant from encroaching on your property.
Japanese Knotweed Law in the UK
But perhaps a better question would be...
Should I sue my neighbour over Japanese knotweed?
Suing your neighbour for a stack of cash might sound enticing, but there are numerous downsides:
- Taking your neighbour to court is likely to ruin your relationship with them - remember, once the matter is settled, you'll still be living next door to one another!
- Pursuing a legal claim is costly and time consuming
- Going through the courts instead of finding a quick, mutually satisfactory solution will only give the knotweed more time to spread
For these reasons, we do not recommend suing your neighbour except as a last resort.
If you've noticed Japanese knotweed on a neighbouring property, start by discussing the issue with your neighbour. Hopefully they will be willing to sort it out themselves; if not, your next move should be to contact a qualified Japanese knotweed expert in order to determine the best course of action.
Here at Taylor Total Weed Control, we specialise in Japanese knotweed removal. We are registered with the Property Care Association (PCA), and we offer a range of cost-effective knotweed treatment programmes to get this pesky plant under control. We can also provide an expert witness in the event of a legal dispute regarding Japanese knotweed.
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SEE ALSO: What to Do If Your Neighbour Has Japanese Knotweed