Tackling a knotty problem

In our latest Expert View column our Sales Manager Tim Bourne writes about the problem of Japanese Knotweed.

Q: I’m selling my property and hear a lot about Japanese Knotweed – do I have it in my garden and should I be worried?

A: The short answer to your question is: no you probably don’t have it in your garden but if you do, yes, you probably should be worried!

Japanese Knotweed has been a problem for some time now but has become more high profile recently due to a case heading for the Court of Appeal about who should pay if a landowner allows the plant to encroach on someone else’s property.

It relates to a dispute in South Wales where knotweed spread into homeowners’ gardens from nearby railway embankments.

Japanese Knotweed can be found near railway lines as it was introduced by the Victorians to hide and in some cases stabilise railway embankments as well as for ornamental purposes in gardens.

With rapidly growing roots, it has dense thickets of bamboo like stems up to three metres tall with heart shaped leaves.

If left untreated, the weed can cause all kinds of problems for householders including blocked drains, cracked patios, undermined foundations and invasive growth into an actual property itself.

Some commentators say that it can cut a property’s value buy up to 20% or prevent a mortgage lender approving a loan.

If you are aware of a knotweed problem you are legally required to mention it on your sellers’ form.

However, the outbreak can be treated and most lenders will be satisfied if a treatment plan is in place or a valid insurance policy exists to cover the plant’s removal.

Experts advise against trying to tackle the plant yourself as its roots spread rapidly and can regrow from tiny fragments whilst earth within seven metres of a plant can be potentially contaminated.

Specialists offer chemical and non-chemical means to eliminate the plant, and there is also an Environment Agency app which shows where cases of knotweed have been recorded.

This can be a useful tool for househunters – there are a handful of cases in Portsmouth – although it is not a definitive record.

So, don’t panic – the problem can be solved. If you are concerned, instruct a specialist to check your property.

Members of the Portsmouth Property Association will be a good starting point to offer advice and recommendations for further action.

You can also speak to one of our expert and friendly staff to find out more.