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Things to know about Japanese Knotweed

Having been in the business longer than I'd care to mention, Japanese knotweed is something I came across many moons ago. At the time it was a relatively new phenomenon and there wasn't a great understanding, which meant any mention and buyers/mortgage lenders would run a mile. As with many historical deal breakers, a term we like to use in the industry, the developments in technology and more importantly a wider understanding and knowledge have meant this is no longer the case.

What exactly is Japanese Knotweed? It is an invasive species of plant which can cause damage to properties if left untreated, particularly with drains and other buried services, paths and driveways, boundary/retaining walls, outbuildings, conservatories and gardens. Historically, methods of treating Japanese Knotweed have varied in success. As a result, Japanese Knotweed has caused some problems in the residential housing market because of the concerns about the damaging effects of the plant.

Today, there is no blanket policy from lenders which prevents them from lending on properties which have Japanese Knotweed, although the difficulty in treating Japanese knotweed has seen some historical reluctance to lend. Individual lenders will weigh up varying factors when considering to lend on a property, taking into account the specific circumstances and some lenders consider applications on a case-by-case basis. Where remediation works are being implemented to remove Japanese Knotweed, generally lenders look for evidence of an initial treatment together with a commitment for ongoing treatment. The distance the knotweed is located from the property will generally have a baring as well. In recent cases, when the invasion is more than 5 meters away, lenders have taken a more relaxed approach, any closer and they are more likely to insist upon evidence of a treatment programme being in place.

The message is don't panic, if you are aware of an invasion effecting your property or think there might be, don't ignore it and get it checked out. Treatment programmes are relatively inexpensive and having one in place will save you time and allow you to sell without any hiccups. Leaving untreated or ignoring completely and the problem will likely manifest itself upon survey and become not only a deal breaker, but also cause serious damage to your property and/or services.

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