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This article was published on September 28th, 2017
When it comes to conveyancing there are many important factors to raise with any potential homeowner.
From selling to advice on shared ownership there are many things to take into account.
When it comes to helping you complete a property purchase, our conveyancing solicitors look to ensure that the property which you are buying does not cause any unforeseen problems or have any ownership-related issues.
One potentially unforeseen problem comes in the shape of an invasive species of plant called Japanese Knotweed.
This destructive and resilient plant can grow very fast reaching heights of 3 to 4 metres during the growing season and get out of hand quickly.
It has the potential to compromise the structural integrity of a property as it is able to grow through concrete and tarmac and can also lead to legal action against a homeowner if it is left untreated.
If you’re not a budding Alan Titchmarsh and have limited horticultural knowledge, it can be quite difficult to identify the troublesome plant.
However, the NNSS does provide a brief overview of what you should look out for when you are trying to determine whether a property has Japanese Knotweed growing on the premises.
Whilst it isn’t an offence to have Japanese Knotweed on your property, it is the homeowner’s duty to ensure the plant does not spread to nearby land or encroach onto adjacent properties.
Although it is not an offence in itself, there is, however, legislation catering for the handling of Japanese Knotweed.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 specifies Japanese Knotweed as controlled waste, meaning it must be disposed of at a licensed landfill site. Should this act be breached, the offender could face an unlimited fine or a prison sentence of up to 2 years.
The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 also makes it a criminal offence to plant Japanese Knotweed, while the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 also allows police and local authorities to issue a community protection notice preventing the growth of Japanese Knotweed. If the protection notice is breached it can result in a fine of up to £2,500 for individuals and up to £20,000 for organisations or businesses.
So as you can see, the repercussions of having Japanese Knotweed can be severe, therefore it’s vital the plant is disposed of as quickly as possible.
So, if you discover Japanese Knotweed on your premises what can you do?
Luckily there are a few countermeasures you can take.
Ideally, you wouldn’t purchase a property until the Knotweed issue had been resolved. However, mistakes do happen.
If you are purchasing a property make sure that you check for signs of Japanese Knotweed before you advise your conveyancer to progress with the rest of the transaction.
If you are unsure whether or not the property has a Japanese Knotweed issue, you should seek advice from your conveyancer or alternatively another professional
A second option is to dig the plant out. However, the length of the roots and the strength of the plant make it very difficult to eradicate using this method.
It is likely that some of the roots will remain and the plant will eventually regrow leaving you with Knotweed problems again further down the line.
If you do decide to use this method, remember, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 you must dispose of the plant in a licensed landfill site.
Another way to get rid of the plant, which is more likely to be successful than digging it out, is to spray it with chemicals.
Do make sure that you only use approved herbicides to treat the Japanese Knotweed, and bear in mind that it’s likely the plant will need more than one dose of the chemicals.
Having a conveyancer is necessary for both a buyer and seller of a property as they can offer invaluable professional legal advice.
As well as helping with the property title transfer process our team of conveyancers will ensure that your rights are protected and that all legal obligations are met before the property is bought or sold.
It is important to remember that should you purchase a property and discover the plant after you’ve completed the transaction, the responsibility of treating it and eradicating it lies with you.
If you would like advice on issues relating to Japanese Knotweed or any conveyancing related issues get in touch with our team today.
Our friendly team of conveyancing specialists have been granted Conveyancing Quality Scheme accreditation, meaning you can rest assured that you will receive only the highest quality service.
As well as carrying out local searches, preparation of contracts and organising the exchange of contracts, our team can help you complete your property transaction with your best intentions in mind at all times.
To speak to a member of our conveyancing team call 03300 580 118 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of our team will get in touch with you at a more suitable time.