21st August, 2019
What is Japanese knotweed?
Essentially it is a tall fast growing Japanese plant with bamboo like stems and small white flowers. It can cause substantial damage to foundations, buildings and homes.
Japanese Knotweed can cause significant problems for home owners and developers. It is illegal to cause it to be propagated in the wild under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The Local Authority can issue remediation notices and charge for its removal.
The Property may be deemed as affected by Japanese knotweed even if there is knotweed within the neighbourhood so Sellers’ must be careful when answering questions about the property and whether knotweed is present. If a Seller answer’s “no” to the question “Is there Japanese knotweed at the Property?” it is suggested that responses should be make clear that there has been no attempt to find out.
If the Buyer is buying with a mortgage, the mortgagee must be told of the existence of knotweed. A valuation undertaken may pick up the presence of knotweed growing at the Property. The mortgage offer may be withdrawn unless the knotweed can be controlled by experts before reaching any building.
It has been given considerable amount of attention in the county court in 2007. In Williams & Waistell v Rail Infrastructure Ltd  EWCA Civ 154 here the Rail Infrastructure Ltd were successfully sued in nuisance for not removing knotweed growing on neighbouring land to dwellings owned by Williams and Waistell. Damages were assessed at £10,000 plus £5000 towards remedial costs.
In Smith and another v Line (6 November 2017) His Honour Judge Carr agreed with the ruling in Williams and granted an injunction requiring the defendant to treat the Japanese knotweed on her land.
Buyer’s, Home owners, tenants, occupiers and developer’s must all be vigilant to knotweed, not only in their vicinity but also in the neighbouring vicinity. The Court of Appeal have now confirmed that loss of value cannot be claimed as this is pure economic loss, damages would be available for lost of development potential and possible future damage to property.
If you have any questions about Japanese Knotweed, please contact our Real Estate team.
Partner & Head of Real Estate