What happens if you’ve bought a property with Knotweed?

Property owners have many responsibilities when taking on new land, amongst these is the requirement to keep any invasive plants in check, such as Japanese knotweed.

Confusion over whose responsibility it is to keep damaging plants such as knotweed under control can often lead to wars of attrition between home-owners, landowners and renters alike, as parties attempt to shift the blame to avoid paying for fixing the problem.

By seeking guidance on your legal responsibilities, that of your neighbours and the previous landowner, you could tackle your knotweed problem and successfully sue for damages in cases where a property has been misrepresented to you, or a neighbour allows knotweed to spread into your land.

As a home-owner it is your legal responsibility to prevent any Japanese knotweed on your land spreading onto another person’s property or into the wild. You are not legally required to remove knotweed from your land, but failing to prevent it spreading on to neighbouring land is an offence. It’s also an offence to incorrectly dispose of any knotweed material, for these reasons it’s always best to consult a specialist before making any rash decisions that could worsen the problem and leave you in a precarious legal situation.

A couple of recent court cases show how crucial it is to identify Japanese knotweed on your property as soon as possible, so that you can take the necessary steps to ascertaining how best to remove the problem and who should be financially culpable.

In early 2018, Adam and Eleanor Smith successfully sued Rosemary Line for allowing Japanese knotweed to grow onto their property. After selling the Smiths their family home in 2002, Mrs Line retained ownership of land that bordered the property. In the years following, the Smiths discovered Japanese knotweed spreading into their land from Mrs. Line’s land which she refused to treat.

The knotweed infestation caused the value of the Smiths’ home to drop by 10%, leaving them no further recourse but to take Mrs Line to court. Although Mrs Line contended that the knotweed had existed before the Smith’s arrival, she was still found to have failed to prevent the spread of the plant from her neighbouring land to the Smith’s home.

Mrs Line will now have to commit to a 5-year treatment plan with a recognised expert who will provide an insurance back guarantee, in order to clear both properties of the infestation – this has provided an important precedence and serves as a clear warning to property owners who choose to neglect the spread of knotweed on their land.

Recently, we’ve been in discussions with a buyer from a separate case who has been forced to pay £5,000 in fees to a removals agency, after discovering Japanese knotweed on their new build property. Before moving in they had asked their conveyancing solicitor to enquire about the presence of knotweed who had neglected to make the relevant investigation. We are currently helping them seek compensation for the solicitor’s negligence.

If either of these cases sound familiar or you’d like guidance on your own Japanese knotweed problem, then don’t hesitate to contact us using the adjacent contact form or call us direct on 07595 653 226.