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Conveyancing Form Caught Up In Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed
6th October 2014

Home sellers who do not disclose the presence of Japanese knotweed run the risk of a misrepresentation claim. A redundant version of the TA6 form, which must  provide as much information as possible to the house or flat buyer but does not include a question on knotweed is still being used by a number of conveyancing solicitors, according to legal industry experts.

Property Information Form TA6 requires a seller to disclose information on issues which include, alterations to the property, planning consents, property insurance, flooding, parking, energy efficiency, and disputes.

If during the process of purchasing a property the surveyor finds Japanese knotweed within 23 feet or seven metres of the property and the problem is not being treated, an mortgage application will most likely to be declined. The application may still be rejected even if the knotweed is found beyond seven metres and is being currently treated, although some lenders will base their decision on the advice of the surveyor’s comments.

Five per cent of housing could be affected

More than one per cent of domestic properties are estimated to currently or have previously been infested with Japanese knotweed, and each are likely to have three or four neighbours, who could all eventually suffer from encroachment. As a result, around five per cent of Britain’s housing stock could potentially be affected by Japanese knotweed, which can  grow up to 10cm per day causing damage to building structures and substructures, and reducing a property’s value.

Japanese knotweed is known to lie dormant for up to twenty years, especially if herbicide treatment has been inadequately applied. It is now thought that the sometimes overlooked question over Japanese knotweed, should be rephrased to specifically address the owner’s awareness of its presence on a property or an immediately adjoining property at any time during their occupation/ownership and of predecessors too.

The spread of Japanese knotweed onto neighbouring land can be considered to be a private nuisance but not a statutory nuisance, which is defined as “any premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance.”