8th October 2018
Four letters can make a big difference! A weed might be unsightly, but if an expert declares it to be “knot” weed, you have a much more tangled problem! Legal risks and obligations affect owners and tenants of residential and commercial property alike, so keep that in mind as you look around your land and know when to seek legal advice.
Despite a 2018 study by the University of Leeds and US engineering firm AECOM finding no evidence that its roots can crack concrete or undermine foundations, Japanese Knotweed can cause property owners no end of difficulties. Here are just a few:-
If you become aware of Japanese Knotweed on your land, its market value will be diminished by this blight and you are best advised to instruct a professional company to advise on remediation. This will typically be a treatment programme stretching over several years to manage it effectively. It is wise to ensure the company will offer a guarantee for its work. Often a clear management programme will be sufficient to convince buyers, lenders and tenants to proceed and to reduce your risk of claims from neighbours, but someone will have to pay the treatment costs.
If you are a tenant or purchaser, make sure you arrange a thorough survey of external areas before committing to a property. Tenants should carve maintenance and eradication out of their lease obligations and consider other concessions from the landlord such as rent reductions and remediation programmes at the landlord’s cost. Buyers should assess whether a price reduction or initial remediation works are appropriate from a seller, and ensure that the benefit of any treatment guarantees and management plans pass to the new owner. It is worth checking that the knotweed consultant is registered with the Property Care Association.
If you discover knotweed on your land, your surveyor might find it has come from next door. In this event, remediation costs could potentially be shared with your neighbours, or even wholly attributed to them. If it has not spread next door from your land yet, take action fast, not just to protect the value of your property but also to prevent claims by your neighbour.
When a weed is knotweed, pay heed faster than the speed of……knotweed!
The contents of this update are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this update. © Mundays LLP 2018.
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