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Should I Buy A House With knotweed

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  • Admin
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  • Knotweed, Japanese Knotweed, House
  • Posted date:
  • 15-09-2021
Should I Buy A House With knotweed

Should I buy a house with Japanese knotweed? 

Why is knotweed a cause for concern among homeowners?

Japanese knotweed is now becoming known as one of the most invasive non-native weeds across the UK; it causes many problems for homeowners or property owners for multiple reasons. 

Japanese Knotweed

If the Japanese knotweed is left untreated for a long period of time, the plant can eventually cause damage and destruction to properties; it will find its way through cracks and weaknesses in concrete and brick walls. 

The roots can also grow directly through asphalt and drains and quickly spread, which can be costly to fix and will majorly affect the property's foundations. 

Japanese knotweed has managed to find its way into approximately 5% of properties directly or indirectly in the UK alone and has presented its dominance in nearly every 10sq km across the country. 

Due to its ability to grow up to 10cm a day and its lack of biodiversity, the knotweed can take over a whole garden and any other native vegetation.

It does this by covering them with its large shaped leaves and overpowering their roots in a very short amount of time. 

The survival of Japanese knotweed is key to its existence, which makes it so hard to eradicate from a property permanently.

Simply burning, mowing or removing it from sunlight won't do the trick.

In most cases, it will take a specialist with heavy machinery, the correct materials and chemicals to safely remove Japanese knotweed. Even then, it will take around two to three years, and if a piece of the rhizome is as little as a fingernail is left behind, the plant can regrow. 

Why Is Japanese Knotweed A Problem?

Japanese Knotweed and the property market

Japanese knotweed has massively negatively affected the property market. House values that have the knotweed on or near the property can drop by as much as 10-15%. 

Mortgage lenders also won't lend to individuals buying a home with Japanese knotweed unless a professional treatment plan is in place with an insurance backed guarantee. This is because there is an unacceptable risk to lenders. If the knotweed is left untreated, it can cause significant damage to the property. 

Sellers are aware of this problem to get a mortgage, so they will often seek out cash buyers. 

For the inconvenience, the buyer is likely to demand a reduction in price if they have some knowledge of the laws and characteristics of Japanese knotweed.

They know the seller can't rely on a mortgage lender so that they can be forced into a bargain sale. 

In a recent case, a property in Woolston Park in Cheshire claimed £30,000 in losses due to the presence of knotweed on the property.

There has been an increase in cases like this and many stories in the press. To conclude, people looking to sell their houses must confront the problem and find a suitable solution.

Should I Buy A House With Japanese Knotweed?

If you want to purchase a house with Japanese knotweed, it has its drawbacks. Still, there are also some positives, one being that the valuation of the estate should be around 10-15% below market value. 

Still, it is always worth finding out the extent of the Japanese knotweed as you don't want a hefty bill or damage to the buildings. 

A wise decision would be to contact your mortgage lender before putting an offer in for the house. Most mortgage lenders will not lend the money unless there has been a full payment upfront for the professional removal of the Japanese knotweed. 

This is because of how long it takes to permanently get rid of the weed, sometimes up to 4 years. You also won't want the seller's solicitor to provide you with all the information as this could take some time and may not inform you of the details. 

Instead, hire a survey inspector to give a detailed report on the affected area and then insist that the entire removal cost is paid for. 

What does Japanese knotweed do to a house?

The invasive plant that is the Japanese knotweed has the ability to find weaknesses in house structures and work its way through. 

It can push through walls, drains and completely penetrate asphalt, making knotweed management very difficult. 

If ignored for too long, the knotweed will most likely have taken over the majority of the native vegetation in the garden. 

The rhizomes of the plant allow it to grow extremely quickly. Its integrated underground root system makes digging up and removing the Japanese knotweed a timely and exhausting process.

How much does Japanese knotweed devalue a house?

The severity of the Japanese knotweed on a property's land will determine how much the house will devalue. If the infestation is minor and at the end of the garden (more than 7 metres away), it will most likely only devalue the property by 5%. 

However, if the property has a mature infestation that stretches to within 7 metres of the house, the Japanese knotweed could completely devalue the property. 

If you plan to sell your house with the knowledge of a Japanese knotweed problem, you must be completely open with the buyer on the severity of the situation. It can be tempting to misinform the buyer as it will devalue your property. 

On the other hand, if you are a potential buyer for a home with Japanese knotweed, the best advice would be to get a report from a Japanese knotweed surveyor. This will give you a clear understanding of the costs needed to rectify the problem. 

How are buyers notified about Japanese knotweed?

When selling a house, it is a legal obligation to make buyers aware of the presence and extent of Japanese knotweed. You are bound by the same Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations that govern estate agents. 

The paperwork that is most commonly used to inform buyers of Japanese knotweed is the TA6 form, on this form it will ask the seller a specific question regarding Japanese knotweed, so the seller is legally obliged to be truthful. 

On this form, there is an option for 'yes', 'no' or 'not known'; the not known option should only be chosen if sellers are providing information on if the Japanese knotweed treatment or a management plan is in place.

If the seller lies about the condition of the knotweed or has stated 'no' when there is, in fact, Japanese knotweed on the land, they can be sued by the buyer and be responsible for the cost of removal devaluation etc.

A professional and ethical estate agent or company has the responsibility to make the buyer aware of Japanese knotweed on the property. 

Consumer regulations have been put in place that requires estate agents not to lie about the homes they are selling.

The regulations require potential buyers the be informed of any material facts that would affect the buyer's decision, so it's important to search for a highly rated estate agent.

Do estate agents have to declare Japanese knotweed to buyers?

All estate agents are required by law during their services to honestly present properties to buyers. This includes declaring any Japanese knotweed on the premises and to what extent the knotweed infestation has damaged the property. 

It's no secret that estate agents can sometimes be desperate to make a sale and will lie to buyers to do so. If this does happen, the estate agent can be reported to the National Association of estate agents, which can lead to them being banned from their job if it proves that they have acted outside of the Consumer Protection form.

Do home sellers have to declare Japanese knotweed to buyers?

In short, yes, home sellers do have to declare Japanese knotweed to buyers, and they must do this through the TA6 Property Information Form. This paperwork will allow sellers to make buyers aware of any negative issues regarding the property. The question reads 'Is this property affected by Japanese knotweed?' and the possible answers are 'Yes, No or Not known'. 

If marked yes, the seller must also state if the Japanese knotweed has a management or treatment plan in place with an insurance backed guarantee. If yes, then a copy of the insurance plan must be provided. 

If it comes to light that the seller has lied about the presence of Japanese knotweed on the property after the sale has gone through, then the buyer is in a position the sue the seller and claim for damages as the seller has lied in the process of a conveyancing transaction. Depending on the seller's level of negligence or deception, the buyer will be able to claim compensation for the devaluation of the property and any damages caused by the knotweed. 

Do you have a Japanese Knotweed problem? If you require Japanese Knotweed Removal in Essex or throughout the UK, contact our expert today.