In 1850, the German physician, botanist, and traveller sent a number of Chinese and Japanese plant varieties to mainland Europe. Among them was Japanese knotweed, which became popular with Victorian gardeners after it reached Kew Gardens in London.
Over a century later, the invasive and destructive plant grows and spreads at rapid rates and causes significant damage to property and neighbouring properties. As such, it can have a significant impact on the value of an estate and causes a considerable issue for landlords and tenants.
Immediate steps to take
The first thing to do is instruct a Japanese knotweed specialist to inspect your property and draw up a program of eradication. Simply removing any visible stems yourself will not be effective as it will grow back. Further, there are legal restrictions on disposing of Japanese Knotweed that must be adhered to.
If the knotweed is spread across several properties, then the eradication program should, ideally, include them too.
If you take no action to correctly remove Japanese knotweed on your own property, then you will likely seriously impact the value of your own property and you may have a liability to any neighbours should it spread to their property.
What legal claims might you have?
If the knotweed originated on neighbouring land, then you may be able to claim some of the removal costs from that landowner. The viability of any claim will depend not only on the evidence to the source of the infestation, but the knowledge that person had of it and their ability to pay any compensation.
If the seller of the property knew, or should have known, there was Japanese knotweed at the property but failed to inform you of this when completing the Sellers Property Information Form, then you may have the basis of misrepresentation claim against them.
You can claim from the seller damages representing the impact on the value of your property due to having knotweed. This will likely include the costs of eradication and any onward impact to value even once treatment is completed.
If you instructed a surveyor to examine your property before your purchase and they failed to advise you there was Japanese knotweed, then you may have the basis of a claim.
However, a claim would only be viable if a reasonably competent surveyor would have noted the presence of knotweed at the time of inspection. As with a misrepresentation claim, you can claim damages representing the impact on the value of your property.
In some situations, it may also be possible to pursue a claim against your conveyancer. For such a claim to be viable, it would need to be the case that the conveyancer received information about a potential presence of knotweed but failed to pass it on, or perhaps failed to advise you to ask some specific questions which might have allowed you to find out about the knotweed before you purchased the property.
The claimable loss would be the impact on the value of the property.
Our goal at RHL Solicitors is to help make your life easier when it comes to legal support and secure an accurate settlement of the client’s losses in accordance with their best interest.
We have expertise in claims arising out of professional negligence in relation to Japanese Knotweed infestations and can guide you through the process with clear and easy to understand advice.
If you seek the advice and service of specialist legal experts with decades of experience, contact our professional negligence and dispute resolution team who will be more than happy to discuss your matter further.
RHL Solicitors will have no delays or waiting times in advising you on your situation and will be quick to get you the support and care you deserve.