Japanese Knotweed update - it just won't go away

According to the RHS website:

Japanese knotweed (fallopian japonica) is a weed that spreads rapidly. In winter the plant dies back to ground level but by early summer the bamboo-like stems emerge fro rhizomes deep underground to shoot to over 2.1m (7 ft.), suppressing all other plant growth.  Eradication requires determination as it is very hard to remove by hand or eradicate with chemicals.

The plant now falls within the ambit of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. It is not an offence to have the plant on your land, but the homeowner should aim to ‘control’ it and they may be liable to prosecution if this is not done.

In spite of the statutory provisions, the presence of Japanese knotweed on land is likely to scupper or severely delay a sale of that land. Sellers are obliged to disclose the presence of the plant on the ‘Property Information Form’ which is sent to the buyer as part of the conveyancing process.

As well as being difficult to eradicate, the plant is a problem because of the potentially destructive nature of it in relation to buildings, walls etc.

We reported on a case in 2017 where Network Rail were held liable in private nuisance for failing to eradicate Japanese knotweed on land that it owned.

This case went to the Court of Appeal which has just upheld the decision against Network Rail although not on the basis that the presence of the plant constituted private nuisance.

The case is an important reminder that sellers must answer the Property Information Form truthfully when they are selling a property. If they do not, a buyer could sue them in misrepresentation. Conversely, a prudent buyer will carefully check not only the fabric of the property that they are buying but the plants that grown in and around the property.

To discuss this or any other property related matter, contact us.