Buying a Property With Japanese Knotweed – Can You?

You may have found a property that you love. You may have had all your financial checks done and you may have received your mortgage offer in principle.  

What happens when you find out that there is Japanese Knotweed; where do you stand?  

Japanese Knotweed is an invasive species of plant that is becoming an increasingly common concern in property transactions. In 2010, the cost of control of this plant – also known as Fallopia Japonica – was estimated at £166m. Not a small sum.  

Japanese Knotweed, also known as JKW or JK for short, poses a direct risk of damage to property and structures. The weed itself can potentially grow by around 10cm a day and, if left unchecked, will pass through concrete and brick structures resulting in expensive repairs or remedial action or potentially destruction.  

It used to be that many Mortgage Lenders would not lend in circumstances where Japanese Knotweed was identified in or around property and neighbouring homes. More recently, many lenders will now proceed to lend but only under very strict provisos.  

Most CML / UK Finance Lenders will allow a mortgage to complete but they will require you to obtain and provide a Japanese knotweed search report, employ the services of an invasive weeds professional, obtain images of suspected Japanese Knotweed infestation for validation by a professional expert, request details of any previous works undertaken to address Japanese Knotweed infestation including details of any insurance-backed guarantee solutions that may still be valid and only then will they consider contractual negotiation based on report findings. 

On a practical level, many of these items become the responsibility of the Seller to provide but in order to allow progress to be made, it is important that you obtain the right advice, the right documentation and the right contractual and financial protections when dealing with your purchase. 

At the end of the day, many lenders will consider these to be continuing obligations of their borrowers and you will not want to find yourself open to the risks of default, penalty or increased costs in dealing with any ongoing issues – not to mention the risk of prosecution under Environmental Health legislation for failing to control the spread of this dangerous and destructive plant.  

At Hodders Law, our property and conveyancing teams have an abundance of experience in successfully dealing with sales and purchases featuring some of the more unusual unforeseen factors and issues. Should you require any further information regarding Japanese Knotweed or any other environmental issues that may affect your purchase please do not hesitate to contact us and a member of our team would be happy to talk you through your options. 

-Kumari Waduge

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