Last week The Law Society issued a revised TA6 form, which is completed by sellers as part of the conveyancing process. There was an important change to the accompanying guidance for the Japanese knotweed question, which all buyers and sellers should be aware of.
Where previously the guidance simply stated; “The seller should state whether the property is affected by Japanese knotweed”, the revised form and guidance, released on Friday 7th February 2020, states: “The seller should state whether the property is affected by Japanese knotweed. If you are unsure that Japanese knotweed exists above or below ground or whether it has previously been managed on the property, please indicate this as ‘Not known’. If No is chosen as an answer the seller must be certain that no rhizome (root) is present in the ground of the property, or within 3 metres of the property boundary even if there are no visible signs above ground.”
Why is this important? Well, in practical terms, it’s impossible to know if knotweed rhizome is present in the ground, especially if it’s dormant, which means that sellers who are not aware of knotweed on their property should no longer answer “No” to the Japanese knotweed question. Instead they should answer “Not known”, leaving it up to buyers to undertake their own enquiries if they so choose by commissioning a professional Japanese knotweed survey.
If knotweed has been previously treated with herbicide up to 20 years ago, it’s possible that the rhizome of the plant is dormant but still alive beneath the ground, with no above-ground growth visible.
Sellers who answer “No” where knotweed is later discovered, could find themselves liable for the cost of treatment, diminution of the property’s value and the claimant’s legal costs, so it’s important that the question is answered carefully. Our advice is to always answer “Not known”, unless of course the answer should be “Yes”!
We’re here to help if you’re buying or selling a property with Japanese knotweed, so contact us today for expert advice.