There are certain plant species that cause devastating damage to both land and buildings. Such species include 'Japanese Knotweed'. The presence and damage caused by these plants can not only have an impact on property but can also give rise to potential legal liability.

You may have heard horror stories about Japanese Knotweed, about it growing through the floors of properties. Although this extreme is unlikely, it can have significant consequences for property owners.

Japanese Knotweed was introduced in the 19th Century as an ornamental plant at which time it spread rapidly and has proved difficult to remove. Indeed it can grow up to 10cm a day at certain points of the year. Japanese Knotweed is notoriously difficult to get rid of and requires treatment by a specialist over many years.

It is not illegal to have Japanese Knotweed growing on your property however, if you allow it to spread to neighbouring properties, you could be sued for any damage caused for the the cost of any treatment plan to remove it.

If you find that you have Japanese Knotweed on your property, you should seek help from a specialist without delay. You should also consider your legal obligations which include:

  • You must dispose of any waste properly (i.e. you cut the Japanese Knotweed down, you cannot just put in the ordinary rubbish and your local waste disposal centre may not accept it); 

  • Although strictly there is no duty to control or remove Japanese Knotweed, if it is present on your land, failure to stop it spreading to adjoining premises can be a criminal offense and/or could leave you exposed to civil action (being sued).

When selling a property there is general rule that you do not need to disclose defects in the physical condition of the property however, in both the commercial and residential sale standard enquiry forms, (that are requested as standard) there is a question asking if the seller of the property being sold is affected Japanese Knotweed). Where you have specific knowledge of Japanese Knotweed on the property and the question is asked, the general rule of non-disclosure is not so clear. You must therefore disclose this to your solicitor who can advise you on your legal obligations in this regard.

For further information, please speak to your solicitor, surveyor, or, if you would like know more see the government's guidance here.

Although every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate and correct, the information provided does not constitute any form of advice, recommendation or opinion. DPM Legal Services Limited accepts no liability for any loss or damage, howsoever caused, as a result of any reliance on any information provided.

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