The Practical Lawyer


Japanese knotweed – beware

We reported in our March 2019 edition (p10) on the recent cases involving liability for Japanese knotweed growing on or adjacent to properties. Conveyancers acting for the S will send their client the Property Information Form (TA6) which ask S to indicate whether the property is affected by Japanese knotweed at question 7.8. S’s conveyancer should remind their client that an incorrect reply could leave the seller open to a claim in misrepresentation from a disgruntled buyer.
A company which treats Japanese knotweed has pointed out the additional risk in that Japanese knotweed dies back substantially in the winter months to the extent that it might look dead or non-existent. This is a further concern for B’s conveyancer – so what steps might be prudent?
  • Identify whether there is knotweed on the property or an adjoining property – having a specialist survey done would be best advice.
  • The conveyancer must advise B that B will be liable as the owner of the property if knotweed is present and encroaches onto neighbouring properties.
  • B should be reminded that the presence of knotweed might mean that the property does not represent good security for any loan.
  • There are indemnity insurance products available which will cover the cost of treatment and reports if knotweed is subsequently discovered at a property following a ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’ response from S on the PIF.
  • Consider adding a paragraph in every purchase report pointing out the risks to buyers of buying a property affected by Japanese knotweed or other invasive plant and reiterate the importance of having a specialist survey carried out.
In the light of the Protocol requirement not to raise ‘indiscriminate’ additional enquiries, B’s conveyancer must be wary – but pointing out the issue to buyers and raising appropriate enquiries must be prudent risk management.

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