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
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