Property problems seem to come in and out of fashion.
Back in the 1980’s it was rising damp and woodworm that would be a last minute deal breaker. The 1990’s saw a massive rise in the number of properties that required wall–tie replacement and the 2000’s saw short leases being the misery of estate agents throughout the land.
The latest in this long line of property woes is something I am often asked about, Japanese Knotweed.
I must confess to having very little experience of it.
I have never actually seen it or bought or sold a property knowingly that is affected by it, but I have done some research so you don’t have to.
I suppose the fact that it is relatively unknown in real life as opposed to within scare stories in the press means that it is still relatively rare, but it is something to be aware of particularly if you’re in the property business or thinking of buying or selling a home in the near future.
Japanese Knotweed is a quite attractive plant that can potentially cause havoc if it seeds close to a property. It is highly invasive and will find its way into brick work and even under floors if left unchecked. Drains, paths, and driveways can also be damaged.
There is also the threat of court action by neighbours if Knotweed from your garden crosses the boundary or damages their property. Perhaps, the most significant short term problem is that the very presence of Japanese Knotweed in or near a property that is being sold will make it unmortgageable by many lenders if the surveyor spots it.
This would make the house either unsalable or significantly reduce it’s appeal and therefore value as action to kill the plant can take up to a year and make the affected area unusable for this time.
In reality, most buyers will simply pull out of a sale if they were purchasing an affected property and go and buy something elsewhere without the hassle.
How To Protect Yourself Against Japanese Knotweed
Firstly, have a good look around the property yourself.
Just see if you can see this silent enemy or whether there are any suspicious looking areas where it may have been cut down hastily to prevent detection. Also, check neighbouring land and study your property survey carefully to ensure that there is no mention of it.
If you are still worried, there is an insurance policy available backed by Lloyds of London SENNOCKE International Insurance Services Ltd, or employ the services of a specialist to give you their opinion.
We’d like to hear your experiences of Japanese Knotweed in the comments below!