Times Investigation into Network Rail and Japanese Knotweed

Earlier this week The Times newspaper published the results of an investigation into the failure of Network Rail to protect homeowners living near railways infested with knotweed, who are unable to sell their homes.

Following a Freedom of Information request, The Times learned that Network Rail had received 11,000 complaints about Japanese knotweed since 2011, including more than 6,000 complaints that the plant was spreading on to private property.

The number of complaints lodged each year against Network Rail, which owns and maintains the railways and adjoining land, has increased by 70 per cent between 2012 and last year.

Our MD Nic Seal was interviewed by the journalist in advance of publication and helped inform one of the key elements of the article, that whilst Network Rail might treat knotweed that is threatening a person’s home, they don’t provide that homeowner with an insurance backed guarantee (IBG) for the work.

This means homeowners, who are legally required to declare that a property has been affected by Japanese knotweed even if it has been successfully treated, will find it difficult to sell their homes because the mortgage lender providing a new loan on the property will insist on an IBG. Through no fault of their own, homeowners therefore find themselves trapped, unable to sell at the property’s true value.

Nic Seal said: “Simply treating infestations with herbicide where homes are under threat is not enough. Network Rail must face up to its responsibilities and take action now to remedy the situation by swallowing the cost of offering guarantees to homeowners for treatment work.”

Nic’s response to the investigation was picked up by the mortgage press, including Mortgage Introducer and Mortgage Solutions.

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