Originally imported as an attractive garden plant it is now a widespread and unwelcome alien plant.
In 1981, the Wildlife & Country Act made it an offence to introduce Japanese knotweed into wild spaces.
The Government is still struggling to properly control the plant and no amount of law making will prevent its spread. The damaging aspect of the plant is that it has a wide ranging root system which can extend up to 3 metres in depth and 7 metres in all directions. This can pose a serious threat to construction works and may have devastating consequences to building foundations and drains, as the root system seeks out any small cracks, and expands its root system into them potentially causing structural damage.
What can you do about it?
The answer is that the plant can be eradicated by experts but at significant cost. A full survey and eradication plan to be undertaken by experts is required. A property with untreated knotweed is likely to be almost impossible to sell.
How do I recognise Japanese knotweed?
Japanese knotweed is best spotted during mid-summer and early autumn. During spring reddish/purple shoots appear from the ground. These can grow up to 2cm a day, thus rapidly forming into dense strands of bamboo-like stems that develop green heart or shield shaped leaves. We have set out below some pictures of Japanese knotweed to help you recognise it.
What should I do if I recognise Japanese knotweed?
We have an expert team of commercial litigation lawyers at Wilson Browne that are able to assist you if you find Japanese knotweed in your garden. We are able to put you in touch with companies that will be able to give you the knowledge and skills necessary to control and eradicate it from your garden.
The legal position
If your neighbours have allowed knotweed to enter from their property into yours you may have a claim for damages for the costs of eradication and possibly for the reduction in value, if any, to your property.
If you have purchased a property and the previous owners deliberately or negligently failed to disclose the existence of Japanese knotweed, you may have a claim for misrepresentation.
A surveyor who has negligently failed to notice the presence of Japanese knotweed at the time of a pre-purchase survey may be liable for the losses caused.
In February 2017 there was a landmark Judgment handed down in the case of Waistell V Network Rail Infrastructure. In this case the Judge awarded the cost of treatment plus the associated reduction in the value of Mr Waistell’s property. The Judge found that the mere presence of Knotweed on an adjoining property could be capable of being a nuisance if it interfered with an individual’s ability to realise the full market value of the property affected by it.
We can investigate your claim, and provide expert guidance to help you to seek recovery of damages for any reduction in the value of your home and the costs that you incur to remove Japanese Knotweed from your property.