Selling a property with Japanese knotweed
If you sell your home, you will receive a pack of documents to complete as part of the conveyancing process. One of these documents is The Law Society Property Information Form (TA6). This form contains a question in section 7 that often baffles our clients. It asks, “Is the property affected by Japanese knotweed?”. This question may seem strange, but if you know anything about this invasive perennial weed, it may be more apparent why the buyer needs to know about its presence. Read on to discover why selling a property with Japanese knotweed can present problems.
What is Japanese knotweed?
Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing, invasive, non-native perennial weed; it can grow at a rate of 10cm a day in spring.
How to recognise Japanese knotweed.
- In spring, look for red shoots that are similar to asparagus spears.
- In summer, bamboo-like canes will reach full height, and bright green shield or shovel-shaped leaves will have unfurled. Small, cream-coloured flowers develop towards the end of summer.
- In autumn, due to its perennial nature, the weed dies back, its leaves will turn yellow, and it develops seed pods.
- In winter, you can only identify the weed by the brown, brittle canes left standing and distinctive ‘crowns’ in the ground.
What is the problem with Japanese knotweed?
Because of its fast-growing invasive nature, Japanese knotweed can cause untold damage to buildings and structures. It’s extraordinarily difficult to get rid of, and even if you manage to kill the visible growth, Japanese knotweed, like the stuff of science fiction, can regrow. And beneath the surface, things are even worse. Its roots, known as rhizomes, can grow up to 2 metres deep and 7 metres wide. They can also develop new plants independently. The rhizomes can cause significant damage, exploiting cracks and interfering with drainage pipes and other underground services. In short, Japanese knotweed can undermine the very foundations of a property.
As a result, Japanese knotweed can drastically affect residential property sales. It will usually mean a property is worth less, with the amount of devaluation depending on the severity of the infestation. And while some purchasers might still be happy to buy a property affected by Japanese knotweed if the price is right, they may not be able to. Mortgage lenders won’t lend on an affected property unless there is a professional treatment plan in place with an insurance-backed guarantee.
Selling a property with Japanese knotweed.
When selling a property with Japanese knotweed, you must be honest about its presence. The only way to get rid of Japanese knotweed is to get professional help. Even if you have taken these steps and engaged a specialist firm to eradicate the weed, you must still disclose that the property was affected.
While it is possible to sell a property affected by Japanese knotweed, here are our two must-do tips:
1: Always tell your listing agent. Honesty is the best policy here. It is our job to manage and negotiate tricky selling features. But, we can only do this if we have all the information. Let us inform any potential buyers early on to avoid offers collapsing and chains breaking at a later date.
2: Engage a reputable knotweed professional before you list. Never try to DIY with this problem; it is too much of a big issue. With a professional treatment plan to eradicate the weed in place and suitable insurance-backed guarantees, you have more chance of a successful sale and less devaluation.
If you have any questions about selling your West Sussex property, please contact us HERE.