Homebuyers beware – the Japanese knotweed invasion has started early this year

AS many unsuspecting homebuyers across Yorkshire have found out to their cost, Japanese knotweed can quickly turn the purchase of a dream home into a living nightmare.

If not caught early, this invasive plant can spread quickly towards your property as well as your neighbour’s, affecting the foundations. It can block drains, ruin concrete drives and brick paving, and damage conservatories and outbuildings.

Conveyancing experts estimate that, nationwide, as many as 1-in-20 properties are at risk from the menace.

It can take years to eradicate under a special treatment plan, which in itself can prove be expensive.

According to one expert – a full excavation and disposal of a medium sized plot of land can cost anywhere between £15,000 and £40,000. That’s one expensive ornamental plant!

After one of the warmest winters on record, the emergence of Japanese knotweed sprouts has already been reported in parts of the country – a month earlier than usual.

So, as part of the conveyancing process, it’s more important than ever to recognise the implications of buying or selling a property with Japanese knotweed.

When buying a house, the seller is obliged to disclose if they are aware of Japanese knotweed

An indemnity insurance policy can be obtained. Or even better, if discovered in the conveyancing process before exchange of contracts, the seller can contribute towards the treatment costs.

Not all mortgage providers lend on properties with this type of issue, so it can impact your ability to proceed with the purchase.  So it is advisable that the property is inspected for the presence of the plant.

Milners’ conveyancing teams in Leeds, Harrogate and Pontefract will make sure that the seller has confirmed whether there is Japanese knotweed and, if there is, advise on the best way for purchasers to proceed to minimise any financial risk.

Japanese knotweed hibernates during the winter and starts to grow when the ground temperature reaches around 4° centigrade, usually in late March or early April.

However, the warm weather which averaged 10°centigrade and peaked at 20.6°centighrade in West Wales at end of February, has resulted in knotweed to emerge early from its winter slumber.

Here in Yorkshire, from Hull to Harrogate, Bradford to Bridlington, Leeds to Liversedge, the temperature for this February was double the historic average.

Japanese knotweed was first introduced into the UK from Japan in the 1850s as an ornamental plant, but it is top of the Environment Agency’s list of the UK’s most invasive plant species.

It is described as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”.

In a recent survey by YouGov, fewer than one fifth (19%) of our population who said they are aware of Japanese knotweed could correctly identify the weed – which highlights the extent of the dangers that lurk in the conveyancing process without proper advice.

The knotweed has emerged a whole two months earlier than last year, when it was delayed due to the ‘Beast from the East’ and didn’t appear until the end of April and into May.

It can be spotted by the red or purple asparagus-like shoots that sprout from the ground and quickly grow into green bamboo-like stems. It grows at a rapid rate of up to four inches a day and if left unchecked could even knock 10% off your house price.

It is also estimated that British homeowners plagued by Japanese knotweed have seen £20 billion in total wiped off the price of their homes.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding Japanese knotweed, or any other property-related issues, such as conveyancing, please do not hesitate to contact our award-winning Property team here at Milners on 0113 245 0852 or email us at hello@milnerslaw




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