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What to do if you find Japanese knotweed on your property

Robert Stone, head of auctions East Midlands continues our series of blogs highlighting property problems by taking a look at the tangled issue of Japanese knotweed.

Japanese knotweed: two words that strike fear into any property owner’s heart – and with good reason.

It is an offence to let Japanese knotweed spread from your land into a neighbour’s property or into the wild; if you do, you could face a fine of up to £5,000 – or even prison.

This incredibly invasive, non-native plant is such a significant issue that it has its own section on the Property Information Form (TA6) – the only plant with this dubious honour.

When selling a property, it is your responsibility to check for Japanese knotweed. It is not illegal to have the plant on your property but it is illegal to allow it to spread. As it can grow up to 10cm a day in spring and summer, smothering all other species, and the roots of one plant can spread seven metres horizontally and three metres deep, the safest course of action is to make a plan to get rid of it.

If the plant is present, you must declare this on the Property Information Form, providing a management plan for its eradication from a specialist.

If left unchecked, Japanese knotweed can damage not just your property but those around it, sprouting through the smallest of cracks in paths and walls, penetrating asphalt and growing through drains, causing blockages.

If you have no immediate plans to sell your property, there is nothing to stop you tackling the problem yourself but personally I would leave it to the professionals, as Japanese knotweed will resist most usual attempts to destroy it:

  • It will regenerate from the tiniest fragment
  • Attempting to dig up the roots will only make it spread further
  • It can spread via shoes, clothing and animal droppings
  • It can survive composting
  • It can survive burning
  • If burying the plant waste, it must be at least five metres deep, beneath a root barrier membrane layer
  • It can take three years or more to treat with chemicals until it is eventually killed.

As it is classed as “controlled waste”, you cannot just take the plant to the local waste recycling centre, either; you must use a registered waste carrier and an authorised landfill site or suitable disposal site.

Yes, it’s scary stuff! What’s more, it’s a perennial, which means it dies back in the winter, making it difficult to detect.

As the nature of property ownership means you may wish to sell at any point in the future, it is wise to check the land now during the growing season and call in a specialist to start the long process of ridding your property of the menace.

If you are already planning to sell your affected property, or don’t have the time or resources to invest in tackling your Japanese knotweed problem, it may make more sense for you to sell your property.

Naturally, the presence of Japanese knotweed is likely to affect its value – not least due to mortgage lenders’ understandable caution – so this makes auction the ideal solution. Many auction buyers are experienced investors who are undaunted by such challenges as Japanese knotweed and will often have faced – and dealt with – the issue before.

Do you have Japanese knotweed on your property? You can read more about the control of Japanese knotweed on the government website.

If you’re thinking of selling your property, you can request a free, no-obligation auction valuation by calling the team on 0800 046 5454 or clicking here.