Buyers of new build homes are potentially being exposed to the risk of Japanese Knotweed due to developers not being required to disclose if the property is affected by the plant.
Invasive plant specialist, Environet UK says the rules are different to those relating to sales of second hand homes in which sellers are required to complete a TA6 Law Society Property Information Form as part of the conveyancing process. This asks a direct question as to whether the property is affected by Japanese Knotweed.
Environet UK warns the lack of the TA6 form on new build homes puts buyers at risk as many don’t commission a survey as they believe themselves to be covered by the National House Building Council guarantee.
As a result the buyer may not find out about an infestation of the invasive plant on the site until it begins to regrow.
Unless their solicitor asks about Japanese Knotweed as part of their additional enquiries it is possible the buyer will not know the weed was present on the site and will therefore be unable to check whether it was professionally treated with the benefit of an insurance-backed guarantee.
Over recent years Japanese Knotweed has found its way into UK gardens and once established it spreads quickly. If it gets into cracks in concrete or brickwork, it can destabilise foundations.
The weed has been described by the Environment Agency as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”.
Advice on the government’s website says it takes at least three years to treat Japanese Knotweed. The rhizome can remain dormant in the soil for many years and will regrow if disturbed or if the soil is relocated.
Sheldon Bosley Knight’s head of residential sales and marketing, James Morton, said: “We would urge any buyer, whether of a new build or second hand property, to check, check and check again when it comes to Japanese Knotweed.
“This invasive plant is very difficult to deal with and eradicate once it gets a foothold. Not only that, it can also cause issues when it comes to insurance and mortgage applications.
“If any owner or tenant sees evidence of the plant in their garden or around their property, they must seek advice from an expert. Although you do not legally have to remove it from your land unless it’s causing a nuisance, you can still be prosecuted for causing it to spread in the wild.
“Therefore it is essential you get the experts in to clear it from the property or garden and dispose of it at a specialist licenced landfill site.”