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Japanese Knotweed - Don’t let it stand in your way

Japanese Knotweed - Don’t let it stand in your way

Published: 22/10/2019

The Victorians were wild about Japanese knotweed, with its beautiful heart shaped leaves, delicate creamy-white flowers and hardy attributes which made it ideal for lining pathways and supporting banks. Brought to the UK in the mid nineteenth century by German-born botanist Phillipp von Siebold and delivered to Kew Gardens in a box of 40 Chinese and Japanese plant varieties, knotweed spread rapidly across the UK as keen gardeners obliviously shared cuttings and disposed of garden waste.

If only they knew the impact of what this seemingly innocent plant would do in the future.

Now we’ve come to understand the vast damage it can do to buildings and the thousands it can wipe off the value of our homes if left untreated. Number one on the Environment Agency’s list of the UK’s most invasive plant species, Japanese knotweed is described as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”, costing an estimated £166 million each year to treat. Growing up to 3 metres in height, it spreads rapidly and can push up through asphalt, cracks in concrete, driveways, cavity walls and drains in its quest for light and water.

You should ask a specialist to inspect your property as soon as possible to investigate whether there is any knotweed present.

If there is, and the knotweed has spread from your neighbour’s property, you may be able to bring a claim in nuisance against them, provided the impact is substantial. 

If proved, the neighbour would be responsible for financing the removal of the knotweed and making good any damage caused by it. 

If you have a mortgage on the property your lender should be informed of any suspected knotweed present.

The lender will want to ensure the infestation is eradicated as quickly as possible so as not to adversely impact their investment. 

Japanese knotweed can be effectively treated and there are a number of plans, with associated guarantees, that lenders will accept in order to proceed with financing a purchase.