Contrary to popular belief Japanese knotweed is not a notifiable weed.
There is no legal requirement to report its presence on land you own or control to the Authorities.
However, when you come to sell a property you will be required to answer a set of pre-contract enquiries which typically follow the Law Society’s TA6 Form. This form has a specific question relating to Japanese knotweed and is phrased:
“Is the property affected by Japanese knotweed?" You can answer "Yes", "No" or "Not known”
In our view this leaves wide scope for interpretation of the word “affected” and does not include any perspective on potential historical problems. For example a seller who has had knotweed treated and thought it had been eradicated might therefore answer “No” in the belief that the property was not now affected. But that might well not be the case, as we all know that knotweed can lie dormant for many years. We’d prefer the question to be amended to:
“Are you aware of the presence of Japanese knotweed on the subject property and or in immediately adjoining property at anytime during your occupation/ownership of the property and of your predecessors in title?.”
We get a lot of calls from people who have recently bought a property only to find a few months later that knotweed is growing on it. A quick call to their solicitor confirms that the answer given to the TA6 question was either “No” or “Not known”, making the buyer a possible victim of misrepresentation. So facing the costs of eradication what are his/her options?
Thankfully the law does provide some remedy and you can sue the seller under the Misrepresentation Act. If you feel you are a victim of misrepresentation and want to discuss your options we’d like to talk to you. It’s normally fairly obvious if attempts have been made to conceal knotweed, so usually we can demonstrate that a “No” or “Not known” answer is not truthful where knotweed is evident. We work closely with a lawyer specialising in this field who may be able to assist with bringing a claim to a successful conclusion.
What all Estate Agents should also be aware of is that the presence of Japanese knotweed is identified as a “material fact” in the guidance to the Consumer Protection Regulations, meaning that it’s presence must be disclosed by the agent. Failure to do so could lead to a criminal prosecution.
Is this all a bit heavy handed? Not in our view, it should go some way to stop dishonest attempts at concealment of Japanese knotweed and reduce the number of property sales with known but undisclosed defects.
Take a look at our Japanese knotweed pictures gallery for help with identification.