Knotweed nuances

Knotweed. Bad news for any property. The stuff is notorious for its fast growth, both through its underground roots or rhizomes. On its way through a building it can do some serious damage blocking drains, growing between slabs of concrete drives, disrupting brick paving, garden walls, and ultimately overwhelming outbuildings and conservatories. Worse than that it’s very difficult to get rid of in its entirety.

From a legal stand point, when it comes to selling a property, Japanese Knotweed on land can create a loss to the property’s market value. The Law Society’s TA6 property information form requires sellers to state whether the property is affected by Japanese Knotweed. Whilst it might be tempting to state ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’ on this form, your potential buyer can come back to you and either rescind the contract or get damages from you as the property is now worth a lot less than they thought.

Solicitors should be cautious of this when dealing with properties especially with new builds and properties near public land. The recent case of Network Rail, for example, where they are being found liable for damages to two homes which have halved in value due to knotweed spreading from the company’s land has brought knotweed to the forefront in the press.

My advice: always seek legal advice if you suspect knotweed lurking anywhere near your property or potential land you own or are looking to buy.