Knot so clever. The Japanese import that may cause property sales to fall through

March 14, 2022

A delicate bloom growing in gardens could cause untold problems in the buying and selling of property.

Despite its innocent look, Japanese Knotweed is listed as one of the world’s worst invasive species by the World Conservation Union.

Resilient to cutting and strong in growth, the root system can damage all manner of buildings, walls, foundations, and roads.

The removal of Japanese Knotweed can cost thousands of pounds to fix and mortgage lenders are rightly cautious about the impact of the aggressive plant.

Watsons Solicitors partner and residential conveyancing specialist Chris Illingworth believes that carrying out the right survey when buying a property can help alleviate potential issues and save money down the line. 

Chris said: “It was a pretty plant that people would put into their gardens, but it is one of several different plants that lenders consider to be problematic.

“When a valuer notices Japanese Knotweed, it is a big red flag because the bill to sort this can run into the thousands.

“That is why the Home Buyer Survey can be really important. There are alternative surveys, but it is often prudent to go that little bit further as it could save you extra expense in the long run.”

Japanese Knotweed can reduce a property’s value and make it difficult to sell unless there is both a treatment plan and insurance.

Chris continued: “The impetus is on the buyer with regards to carrying out surveys, which typically look for things like knotweed, but if knotweed is found, then it turns things back on the seller because there is a need for it to be put right.

“A buyer and their lender will be expecting to see that there are treatments taking place and make sure there is some insurance backing up that course of action before they proceed.

“Sellers are asked if they are aware of it being present on their land within the Property Information Form, and the answers are yes, no, or not known. Unless you are absolutely sure that there is no Japanese Knotweed the advice is to say not known as the buyer can go back and claim against the seller if it is discovered later down the line.

“The problem is that people answer no in good faith, but sometimes Japanese Knotweed is growing nearby, or it isn’t visible at the time, but even from a neighbouring property it can be directly impacting your own.”

Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 60 years, specialises in family law, employment law, wills and probate, and conveyancing.

The team of experienced solicitors each hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.

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