This Plant Can Do WHAT?!?!?!

Published: 02/10/2018

There are many things that can reduce the value of a property - from location to decoration, no rhyme intended! However, there is another big danger to UK property owners right now that you’d probably never even consider - a plant!

Yes, you read right.

According to new research, Japanese knotweed has knocked £20bn off the total value of the country’s property market.

Many mortgages lenders are even refusing to grant loans to potential homeowners, if the property is affected by the weed.

Originally an ornamental plant that first came to the UK in the 1850s, Japanese knotweed is now known as one of “the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plants” according to the Environment Agency, due to its ability to spread through tarmac, concrete, driveways and drains.

In a survey completed by YouGov and Environet UK, it was found that five percent of UK houses are currently affected by knotweed, either directly or indirectly (when a neighbouring property is affected).

The weed is so aggressive and difficult to eliminate, that you may not even be able to sell your property because of it!

Even if someone does agree to buy your knotweed-infested house, the buyer will probably need to provide details of a weed management plan to their lender before securing a mortgage.

The stats

According to the latest Land Registry price index, the average UK house costs £228,000. The presence of Japanese knotweed has diminished the value of affected houses by 10 per cent, creating an average loss of £22,800 to property owners.

It is estimated that between 850,000 and 900,000 UK households are affected by the Japanese plant, wiping almost £20bn off UK house prices.

Help, my house is infected by weeds! What should I do?

Professionals advise not to try and tackle the weed yourself, as DIY methods are rarely (or even, never) effective in completely eliminating the plant.

If your property is infected, you will need to hire a professional weed removal company to act on your behalf, who will most likely use industrial-strength weed killer to resolve the problem. This will be pricey but worth it, especially if you want to sell your house in the near future. Professional advice is to act sooner rather than later, as the weed quickly spreads!

Please note that sellers are now required to inform future buyers whether the property is or has been affected by Japanese knotweed even if the plant has been removed.

What to do if you’re buying a house

There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself against this horrible weed before locking in a house purchase. They include:

  • Download the PlantTracker app.

    Created by the Environment Agency, this app tracks Japanese knotweed using crowd-sourcing, so you will know if the area you are considering is likely to be affected by the weed.

  • Ask the current owners.

They are required by law to inform you if the property has been infected by the weed previously, even if it has all been professionally removed.

If you’re still worried, you can hire a professional to survey the home, including garden area, for you.

Other factors that can devalue your property

Thinking about selling your property? Weeds are not the only thing that can make your life difficult once the conveyancing process begins.

Other factors that will devalue your home include:

  • High crime figures in your area
  • Bad neighbours
  • Over-improving your home
  • Poorly performing local schools
  • Neglecting your home’s exterior
  • Clutter and dirt
  • Poor energy efficiency
  • Air pollution
  • Cats, dogs and other pets

Some of these things you can control, others not. Our advice would be to make your property as clean, attractive and clutter-free as possible, ensuring also that it is structurally sound and efficient, so those other factors such as location or local air pollution are less of an issue when potential buyers come knocking!

Why are we the best solicitors for you?

GWlegal are a property solicitors based in Liverpool, specialising in buying or selling, remortgage, declaration of trust, bridging and buy-to-let landlords.

If you have a legal matter you wish to discuss don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 0345 373 3737 email us with your question.

Who are GWlegal? We’re a national firm with local values.

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Content correct at time of publication.

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