Japanese Knotweed is a non-native species of plant, due to this it is covered in many aspects of the law to ensure it does not spread and cause more damage to Britain’s ecosystem. It can knock around 15% off the value of your home if it is found on the property and potentially means you could see a mortgage on a property your wanting to buy being rejected.
It was brought over from Japan in the Victorian era. It grows rapidly up to 10cm a day in the spring and is notoriously painful to get rid of, specialist treatment is the most common way of getting rid of it, either by burning or herbicide injection or spraying however, herbicide treatments can be done yourself, but are seen as more of a control method. The only really way to get rid of it is by excavation which is very expensive, due to its extensive and deep growing rhizomes (root system).
In the winter months the plant looks as if it is completely dead although it lies ‘dormant’ until the springtime, growing back very quickly and outcompeting any plants that grow nearby. This rapid growth means the characteristics you need to keep your eye out for change often as the plant grows through many phases.
As per The Negotiator’s online article Japanese Knotweed legal claims are on a 25% year on year increase, so being familiar with the law around Japanese Knotweed may be beneficial to you at some point as it continues to spread across the UK.
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981:
Japanese Knotweed is classified as an invasive species, it is not illegal to have it growing on your own property although, it is the responsibility of the landowner to prevent the plan from spreading to neighbouring property/land or into the wild. You do not have to control the plants growth or remove it, but you must not encourage its growth on adjacent land. However, removal of the plant must be done carefully. This is stated in Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
This is slightly different in Scotland the Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Environment Protection Agency have the powers to force landowners to act and control to prevent the spread of an invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed, using Species Control Orders or Emergency Control Orders.
Give Your Neighbours Notice If It Is Growing On Their Property:
If your neighbour has Japanese Knotweed growing on their property and it has encroached onto your land you must give them notice of this by writing first. Asking them to treat the problem on there property as well as yours, using specialist treatment backed with insurance in case the problem comes back.
Environmental Protection Act 1990:
Japanese Knotweed is also classified as ‘controlled waste’ under the Environmental Protection Act. Disposing of the plant material or any soil contaminated with Japanese Knotweed material must be done by a licensed waste carrier and then disposed at within a licensed landfill site.
The penalties for this can be quite severe in some cases – imprisonment for up to six months and/or a fine up to £40,000 or imprisonment up to two years and/or a fine.
Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005:
However, if the Japanese Knotweed has been treated with certain herbicides or pesticides then it becomes classified as Hazardous Waste, and this must be stated on the consignment note when being transported and delivered to a facility to dispose of it.
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders:
In 2013 the UK Government decided you could receive fines for failure to control Invasive plants, such as Japanese Knotweed. For individuals this would be £100 on the spot fine and £2500 if prosecuted and up to £20,000 for organisations.
Misrepresentation on TA6 Property Information Form:
If you’re selling a home with Japanese Knotweed present you must declare this on your TA6 property form, failure to do so or attempting to conceal it presence can result in the buyer revoking the contract or receive damages from you, the seller as the property is now worth less than was originally thought.
If you have bought a home and paid for a professional survey to be carried out and the surveyor missed out on the presence of Japanese Knotweed, you could potential be able to make a claim against the surveyor if you can prove that they should of noticed the infestation.
There have been a couple of landmark cases against Network Rail by property owners that live next to railway lines and embankments. Japanese Knotweed was used in the 70’s and 80’s to help stabilise embankments before it was known how aggressive it was. This has led to property owners having the plant encroach onto there land. This can be very annoying for homeowners as there is the potential for them to lose large parts of garden space due to how quickly it grows. Along with the damaging affects it can have on buildings if it manages to find cracks in foundations, brickworks and drains It can end up costing the homeowner a lot to put right.
This happened in the case of Williams vs. Network Rail (however, there are a few examples of cases similar). Japanese Knotweed had encroached from Network Rails’ land onto Williams’ land, it was ruled in court that the infestation has caused a loss of enjoyment from his property and through no fault of his own found his property value had diminished due to the infestation. He was awarded £10,500 in damages towards the diminution of the property and another £5,000 to treat the infestation.
Looking For Legal Help Regarding Japanese Knotweed?
If you are then, Housing Triage are here to help, we specialise in Japanese Knotweed claims and can help you with any queries regarding making a claim. If you’d also like help regarding identification you can find out more here or get in touch and we will happily assist you, we look forward to hearing from you.