There are various Japanese knotweed legal concerns that need to be taken into account.
An example of one piece of legislation is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it a criminal offence to plant or otherwise cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild.
It seems it’s not just property owners experiencing the menace of the dreaded Japanese knotweed, the weed dubbed by the Environment Agency as the “UK’s most aggressive and destructive plant”. Recognised as such by all major lenders, there is now a specific question on knotweed in the Law Society’s Pre-Contract Enquiry form (TA6). Several firms of solicitors have failed to insist that the seller’s solicitors use the new TA6 form resulting in those firms agreeing to hefty out of court settlements with their clients.
We asked Nic Seal, MD of Environet UK, leading specialists in Japanese knotweed removal, to comment:
“There’s obviously no excuse for using out of date forms. What we experience more often though are enquiries from new home owners, particularly in the spring when new shoots appear, where the presence of knotweed was not disclosed, leading to misrepresentation claims against the seller.
If the seller has declared “Not known” to the question “Is the property affected by knotweed” misrepresentation may be more difficult to prove than if the declaration had been a simple “No”. This is where the solicitor needs to exercise caution, being duty bound to explain to their client (the buyer) the risks associated with knotweed and how to mitigate them. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen, leaving the solicitor open to a nasty professional negligence claim.
Thankfully the risk can now easily be alleviated with a low cost knotweed insurance indemnity policy, providing cover for the new homeowner and their lender. I’m told the first policy sold was to a solicitor for his own property - that speaks volumes. Solicitors that make the buyer aware of the availability of this new knotweed indemnity insurance will go a long way to fend off any future professional negligence claims, limiting any knotweed legal concerns for the solicitors.”
Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive plant featured in The Sunday Times as “The Plant that Ate Britain”. Buyers should be made aware that knotweed can cause damage to property, as well as being responsible for a growing number of neighbour disputes, and without the right treatments supported by insurance backed guarantees; they may find it difficult to obtain a mortgage.
Please call us today on 01932 868 700 if you have found Japanese knotweed on your property and would like to discuss your options.