As you may be aware, Japanese Knotweed is an invasive species in the UK, which although superficially attractive, causes major structural problems to buildings. At its most prolific, it can grow up to 20cm a day. Its roots are 3 metres deep and it can grow through concrete. It spreads easily and swamps other plants.
A homeowner in Cornwall who has taken his neighbour to court over a patch of Knotweed, has won his case. Adam Smith has successfully sued Rosemary Line over the plant growing over their properties near the beach near Falmouth. The case was heard before Judge Simon Carr at the County Court in Truro last October. A ruling has only just been published. This confirms that whilst it is not illegal to have Knotweed on your land, it is illegal to allow it to spread. The defendant in the case is now obliged to incur some substantial time and expense in eradicating the weed.
When selling a property, sellers are asked to complete a questionnaire indicating whether the property has suffered from Japanese Knotweed. Obviously extreme care needs to be taken before casually answering “No”!
This case has reinforced the legal requirement for homeowners to prevent the spread of Japanese Knotweed from their property onto neighbouring land, or face the possibility of being sued. Enormous care needs to be taken in treating the weed, since simply burning it or cutting it back or using “over the counter” weed killers, will simply not be effective. Specialist treatment is essential. It can affect the ability of neighbouring properties to sell or be re-mortgaged and any work carried out should be done so by a recognised expert providing an insurance backed guarantee.
If you would like to discuss this further please contact Mark Ollier or any other member of our Property Team.