Knot In My Property – The Legal & Practical Implications Of Japanese Knotweed

3rd October 2019



The dreaded Japanese Knotweed has long been the bane of property owner’s lives and, although awareness of it is rapidly growing, many are unaware of the legal and practical implications of Japanese Knotweed. This article seeks to dig down to the roots of the issues associated with Japanese Knotweed by outlining exactly what it is, why it is an issue, what you can do about it, and finally, how BHP Law can help.

 

What Is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed is a bamboo-like weed which is native to East Asia and was introduced to the United Kingdom in the 19th century. Annually, in early summer time, the plant will grow aggressively and invasively to heights topping 7 feet. The plant can grow through almost everything in its path, including concrete, and can severely compromise the structural integrity of buildings. In winter the plant will die back down to ground level, hidden until the next summer. Japanese Knotweed has an extraordinary ability to disperse and one small piece of the plant can result in the creation of a whole new colony if not disposed of correctly. Care must therefore be taken when seeking to eradicate Japanese Knotweed, cutting it back won’t kill it but will instead likely cause it to disperse further. To successfully eradicate knotweed a Japanese Knotweed removal specialist should always be used and any cuttings correctly disposed of.

 

Although Japanese Knotweed can grow anywhere, issues generally arise at properties that abut commercial land such as railway tracks and building sites.

 

Why Is Japanese Knotweed An Issue?

Although the identification of Japanese Knotweed at your property does not create any legal obligation to remove or report it, the spread of the plant can lead to both civil and criminal consequences.

 

In terms of civil liability, the intrusion of Japanese Knotweed onto a neighbour’s property can lead to liability under a private nuisance claim. The scope of this liability has recently been widened by the Court of Appeal so that there is potential liability even before the plant has caused any physical damage, the existence of the plant being enough.

 

Also, failing to report the existence of the plant when selling a property may amount to mis-selling/misrepresentation and if it is reported but your solicitors haven’t explained things to you on purchasing a property, they may have acted negligently.

 

In terms of criminal liability, it is an offence for any person to ‘cause to grow’ Japanese Knotweed in the wild. Therefore, although there is no obligation to remove Japanese Knotweed, if you knowingly spread, or allow the plant to spread, into the wild then you could be found guilty of a criminal offence. The penalty for which ranges from a fine to six months custodial sentence. 

 

The existence of Japanese Knotweed at a property also brings with it a number of practical issues because of the devastating damage it can cause. Japanese Knotweed can adversely affect the value and insurability of a property and can also affect the prospects of a potential buyer getting a mortgage for the property – action usually being required by lenders if the plant is found within 23ft of the property.

 

What Can I Do About Japanese Knotweed?

If you think you might have Japanese Knotweed on your property, or are concerned that your neighbor does, then in the first instance seek expert advice on how the plant is to be removed. As mentioned earlier in this article you should engage licensed Japanese Knotweed specialists to remove the plant due to its uncontrollable nature. Although its removal is not cheap, the alternatives (being potential civil and criminal liability), are far worse than the financial outlay in eradicating the plant.

 

How Can BHP Law Help?

At BHP Law our Dispute Resolution team has an array of experience and expert knowledge when it comes to disputes arising out of the existence of Japanese Knotweed. If your property has been affected by the spread of Japanese Knotweed from neighboring land, if you have recently bought your property and weren’t told about the existence of Japanese Knotweed, or if you have been accused of failing to deal with Japanese Knotweed on your land then we are able to help, simply contact the team on 01325 466794 to discuss with one of our solicitors.

 

 

The dreaded Japanese Knotweed has long been the bane of property owner’s lives and, although awareness of it is rapidly growing, many are unaware of the legal and practical implications of Japanese Knotweed. This article seeks to dig down to the roots of the issues associated with Japanese Knotweed by outlining exactly what it is, why it is an issue, what you can do about it, and finally, how BHP Law can help.

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