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A property infested by knotweed can cost the home owner thousands of pounds, both in relation to the cost of treatment for the plant and the severe negative impact it has on the value of the property.
Home owners & estate agents are often reluctant to disclose the presence of Japanese knotweed on a property or make it difficult to uncover, especially if they know it will affect the property’s value. The task of accurately purchasing a sound property is difficult enough without the added challenge of lurking infestations attempting to be concealed.
Discovering Japanese knotweed growing on property that you have recently purchased is a stressful situation. Identifying the plant quickly and efficiently is key to resolving the problem as soon as possible.
What happens if the seller lied at the point of sale?
Selling a house with Japanese knotweed can be challenging. Since the plant has garnered much media attention and is well documented, sellers now know that it can damage the value of their property and cause problems with local authorities. Sadly, this doesn’t strictly mean that buyers are out of the woods, it’s known sellers still try to pull a ‘fast one’ without declaring infestations and asking full property value with known infestations.
The presence of Japanese Knotweed on a property can lead to wasted time and money on the part of prospective buyers. For example, a prospective buyer may have arranged the sale of their existing home and paid for surveys and legal fees before discovering the plant during a home inspection and being forced to pull out of the purchase. Because no contract has been signed between the legal entities, the seller cannot be pressed for the costs incurred by the buyer prior to the failed property sale.
What can I do if I discover an infestation after the sale has completed?
In the case of a property sale, a contract has to be entered into between the buyer and seller of a property. If the infestation is discovered after the contract has been signed, then the buyer is in a much better position to claim for damages. Homeowners who have bought property infested with Knotweed may be able to sue their sellers for misrepresentation if the seller was either careless or intentionally deceptive about the problem. Proving this can however is not always an easy task.
Should Japanese Knotweed have been declared on the TA6 information form?
If you have bought your house through the usual conveyancing process, then it is likely that the seller would have completed a TA6 property form in the lead up to the sale. The TA6 form is a legally binding document, lying on it can quickly lead to legal action being taken.
Incorporated into the TA6 is a specific question that relates to the presence of Japanese knotweed on the property. This is the seller’s opportunity to disclose any infestations which they have knowledge of or should have known. If it is discovered that they deliberately withheld this information, you may be able to sue them for the cost of treatment and other damages.
Can I claim compensation from a seller who purposely deceived us?
You may be able to claim compensation against sellers who make no attempt to inform you about the extent of the Japanese knotweed infestation (read our Japanese Knotweed Compensation page for more information and advice). Proving this is can be a difficult task though.
Japanese knotweed can damage a home’s value, but the severity of the depreciation in value is directly related to the nature and extent of the infestation. Making it difficult to pinpoint just how much value has been lost or should be compensated for.
Due to the fact that some mortgage lenders refuse property mortgages if Japanese knotweed is within a certain distance of the home, sellers are often desperate to conceal or deny its presence. However, doing so will leave them open to Japanese knotweed legal action.
The first step to you making a claim for compensation should be finding contact details for the previous owner. Not leaving contact details is a common practice among sellers of properties who want to avoid discussing any issues with the property they’ve failed to mention, such as Japanese knotweed. Tracking down the previous owner is an important step in the process of claiming compensation against them.
If you’re ever in doubt, simply get in touch and we’d be happy to conduct a Japanese Knotweed Survey – helping you avoid any mishaps or unwanted surprises.