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.
- What is the TA6 form?
- What is the Japanese knotweed question?
- What has changed?
- What does this mean for sellers?
- What does this mean for buyers?
- Why is Japanese knotweed such a big problem?
What is the TA6 form?
The Law Society's TA6 Property Information Form is a document that you have to complete when selling a property. The seller fills out the TA6 form to give the buyer detailed information about the property they are about to purchase.
The TA6 form includes questions on everything from insurance to parking arrangements. For now, though, we're mainly interested in the 'Environmental matters' section of the form - specifically the question about Japanese knotweed.
What is the Japanese knotweed question?
The TA6 form's question on Japanese knotweed is as follows:
Is the property affected by Japanese knotweed?
When filling out the TA6 form, sellers must tick one of three answers:
This may seem straightforward enough, but thanks to a recent change, this apparently simple question has become a real can of worms.
What has changed?
In February 2020, The Law Society published a new set of explanatory notes to help sellers fill out the TA6 form correctly.
The updated guidelines can be downloaded from The Law Society's website - here's the key part:
If you are unsure that Japanese knotweed exists above or below ground or whether it has previously
been managed on the property, please indicate this as 'Not known'. If 'No' is chosen as an answer, the seller must be certain that no rhizome (root) is present in the ground of the property, or within 3 metres of the property boundary even if there are no visible signs above ground.
Previously, when selling a property with no history of Japanese knotweed and no visible signs of infestation, it was acceptable to answer the TA6 form's Japanese knotweed question with a simple 'No'.
But The Law Society's new guidelines are stricter. Now a seller may only answer 'No' if they are certain that no Japanese knotweed rhizome is present on the property or within 3 metres of the property boundary.
What does this mean for sellers?
It's very difficult for a seller to be absolutely positive - without a shadow of a doubt - that there's not even a single rhizome within 3 metres of their property.
How would you answer the TA6 form's Japanese knotweed question if you were selling your house? Would you dig up your entire garden and ask your next-door neighbours to do the same, just to make sure?
Probably not. Most sellers who read the new TA6 form guidelines will probably just tick 'Not known' in response to the knotweed question - which means that buyers will need to be all the more vigilant.
What does this mean for buyers?
If you're considering buying a property whose owner has ticked the 'Not known' answer on the TA6 form, you may want to ask if you can carry out a Japanese knotweed survey of your own.
With the seller's permission, you can hire a Japanese knotweed specialist to visit your prospective new home and conduct checks to identify whether or not there is any sign of this invasive plant species on the property.
If Japanese knotweed is present, your contractor will then be able to recommend a suitable knotweed management plan to keep it under control.
See also: My neighbour has Japanese knotweed - what should I do?
Why is Japanese knotweed such a big problem?
Having read all of the above, you may now be thinking: 'Good grief! What's the big deal? Who cares whether or not there's a specific type of plant in my garden?'
But Japanese knotweed is no ordinary plant. It's an invasive species that can spread rapidly if it's not properly controlled. Even a single small rhizome (root) can turn into a whole new plant if left unchecked.
And this isn't one of those pesky garden weeds that's a bit unsightly but ultimately harmless. Japanese knotweed is strong enough to grow through cracks in concrete, and it's been known to damage buildings and roads that get in its way.
That's why there are laws in place to prevent Japanese knotweed from spreading, and that's why you should think twice before buying a property with a Japanese knotweed problem. The plant's presence can knock as much as 20% off the value of an otherwise desirable home!
If you need to arrange a Japanese knotweed survey, give Taylor Total Weed Control a call on 029 2039 7554 - we've been dealing with Japanese knotweed for years, and we can offer expert advice and a full treatment plan if necessary.
Request a FREE Japanese Knotweed Survey
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