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How can Japanese Knotweed affect your Property & Mortgage?

by Meera Shah — Posted on 12 September, 2018

Mortgage owners successfully claim damages for Japanese Knotweed

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese knotweed is a hazardous bamboo-like plant that grows rapidly through concrete foundations. The plant can reach over seven-foot-high and is expensive to treat. Consequently, Japanese knotweed poses a potential financial burden upon home owners whose property is at risk of damage from the plant. The cost of removing just a small patch of Japanese knotweed can be over £1,000. It then takes at least six months to eradicate it entirely, and as a result it can be extremely difficult to take out a mortgage on a property where Japanese knotweed is present.

Conveyancing and Mortgage Implications

When selling your property, it is a legal requirement to state whether it is affected by Japanese knotweed via a TA6 form. If this is the case you will likely spend a lot of time and money on conveyancing, and conveyancers are also required to make their clients and mortgage lenders aware if there is Japanese knotweed present. Mortgage lenders will usually refuse to lend if there is Japanese knotweed on the property. This is because lenders are cautious about the financial security of the potential buyer, due to the risk of not being able to resell property with Japanese knotweed in future and the cost of removing the plant.

Court Ruling against Network Rail

Three judges in South Wales ruled in favour of two property owners whose land was encroached upon by Japanese knotweed. Although the plant caused no physical damage and was only within seven metres of the claimants’ homes, the home owners succeeded in their claim.

After filing multiple complaints over the past five years the two individuals affected were successful in their claim, after a ruling at Cardiff county court. Network Rail appealed the decision after the Claimants were awarded damages, however this was then overruled by the Court of Appeal. The Japanese knotweed was deemed a natural hazard to landowners as it posed an immediate burden, due to the difficulty of removing it.

Both property owners are due to receive near £15,000 in financial compensation. Network Rail were denied the opportunity to appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court.

Consequences for Future Conveyancing Cases

Millions in taxpayers’ money may be spent to ensure National Rail fully deal with Japanese knotweed, as thousands of similar claims could be made following this case. The ruling has, therefore, set a precedent for future cases in England and Wales concerning the obtrusion of Japanese knotweed on an individual’s property.

The judgement ruled that the case was not won because the Japanese knotweed reduced the value of their property. Rather, the landowners were able to claim on damages due to private nuisance laws. In conveyancing, these laws apply where there is an inability for one to enjoy and fully utilise the benefits of their property. This means that similar incidents involving Japanese knotweed can be successfully argued in future court cases where the property is deemed to lose personal value for the owner, rather than financial value.

How Starck Uberoi can help

Having trouble dealing with Japanese knotweed? Our conveyancing lawyers will be on hand throughout the process if any property that you are buying or selling is affected by Japanese knotweed. For more information, please visit our Landlord and Tenant page or to book an appointment please call 020 8840 6640. We are based in Ealing; our West London Ealing office is located 10 minutes from Ealing Broadway station. For an appointment at our London Belgravia office a few minutes from Victoria Station call 020 7824 5118.

About Meera Shah

Meera joined the firm in 2016 and has since progressed from working as a Paralegal to gaining a training contract. Meera currently works in our conveyancing department and her areas of expertise include residential and commercial conveyancing and landlord & tenant disputes. Meera has an interest in animal welfare and was a founder of a charity involved with rescuing wild cats. She also enjoys regular visits to her gym and the prospect of travel.