JAPANESE KNOTWEED – CAN I GET A MORTGAGE?
In the past 2 months I have had 2 mortgages declined in Cardiff. In one the the Japanese Knotweed was 15 foot from the garden boundry wall. As a result of this I have conducted my own research
Japanese Knotweed has now become an increasing problem.
This is due to a number of factors.
1) Councils cutting back on eradication or control due to budget constraints.
2) An increasing awareness of lenders of the possible affect on their security
3) Surveyors actively looking for this weed in gardens and within the close vicinity of the property to avoid possible future claims.
Explanation of knotweed and the law
The Environment Agency describes Japanese knotweed as the most invasive species of plant in Britain. Landowners are under a statutory duty to be proactive in the control and eradication of it. All parts of the plant and any soil contaminated with it are classified as controlled waste and must be removed and disposed of by a licensed waste control operator. Here, Chris Alexander, a property litigation lawyer at SA Law outlines your legal rights:
If you have Japanese knotweed on your land:
It is not an offence to have Japanese knotweed on your land and it is not a notifiable weed. However, under Section 14(1) and (2), of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is a criminal offence to plant Japanese knotweed or otherwise cause it to grow in the wild. It is a defence to a prosecution to prove that all reasonable steps were taken and all due diligence was exercised by the landowner.
If your neighbor has Japanese knotweed on their land:
Again, it is not an offence for Japanese knotweed to be present on your neighbor’s land but allowing it to encroach onto your property may constitute a private nuisance under common law.
A landowner affected by knotweed growth from a neighbouring property may therefore be able to apply to court for an injunction requiring the neighbouring owner to abate the nuisance. Such a claim can also include a sum of money in damages to reflect the cost of any physical damage to the property and/or the diminution in value of the landowner's property as a result of the nuisance.
The removal, eradication and disposal of the weed may be expensive but given that the presence of it can impede the sale of your property and/or affect the value, a least-risk approach would be to have it removed by licensed contractors and properly disposed of.
The lenders are now trying to come to grip with a coherent lending strategy. Leeds, Woolwich and Santander are an automatic decline if found in the garden. Woolwich will also decline if found close to the property. Halifax, Nationwide and Virgin Money (previously Northern Rock) consider lending with guarantees or an indemnity in place. All lenders will take into account surveyors comments. This area of lending is very fluid and you should contact us for the current position of lenders.
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