The Enemy: Japanese Knotweed

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a weed that spreads rapidly. In winter the plant dies back to ground level but by early summer the bamboo-like stems emerge from rhizomes deep underground to shoot to over 7ft, suppressing all other plant growth.

Why having Japanese Knotweed at a property is a no go…

It’s pretty self explanatory, but from a Mortgage perspective, most surveyors will note Japanese Knotweed as a negative find at a property and will deem a property unsuitable for Mortgage purposes due to the aggressiveness of it. However other surveyors will note Japanese Knotweed as a problem and insist that it is seen to and removed by a specialist before giving the property a value.

Loopholes

Not all home owners know that their property has Japanese Knotweed, which means potential buyers won’t know either and if not noticed when a survey is done on the property, good news, you’ve got away with it. However when you decide to move on and the weed has grown out of control and is noticeable, you may find it very costly and difficult to get the property off of your hands.

It’s not a good idea to hide the presence of knotweed

Whilst it may make the sale easier, the TA6 form now has a specific question about knotweed.  Concealing the presence of knotweed could prove to be an expensive mistake, as the buyer may have a case for misrepresentation and against the seller and report the acting agent to the authorities for breach of CPR regulations. 

What can be done… 

Removal

  1. The two main knotweed removal methods are herbicide treatment and physical removal. 
  • Herbicide Treatment is lower in cost but takes at least one growing season, often more. It’s the least disruptive method, but not suitable where there are plans that result in substantial disturbance of the the ground e.g. construction or landscaping works.
  • Physical Removal such as Environet’s Resi-dig-out™. This eco-innovative removal method can be completed any time of the year, and takes a matter of days. 

2. Don’t buy that property if Japanese Knotweed is present. Do your due diligence.

My property has been valued at £0 because of Cladding – HELP!

Stay away from flats with ACM material and/or flammable cladding.

Think with me: If you are having difficulty obtaining a Mortgage to buy it, you will have difficulty Remortgaging and selling it!

You can usually spot the flats that may cause you issues with a naked eye. 

A flat with cladding

If the surveyor that goes round to value your property is cautious of the material on the exterior of the building, this hesitance alone causes a delay for you. 

This delay is caused as you will be required to prove that the material on the exterior of the flat is not flammable. This is in the form of a fire report that the Estate Agent, Managing Agent or vendor should have. 

Valuers have become increasingly concerned, because Advice Note 14 means the owner has to say the building’s material is fully safe, which is very difficult to do while the building waits for inspection results and while everyone waits for the government’s cladding test outcomes.

Surveyors and mortgage lenders are requiring building owners to demonstrate that cladding meets Advice Note 14’s criteria. If they can’t, the properties are valued at zero.

Most building owners cannot immediately provide these assurances, so they are having to get trained professional engineers to carry out lengthy and costly checks, holding up sales, purchases and Remortgages.

If you’re currently suffering this issue as a Home Owner Remortgaging your property, then the best person to speak to regarding this kind of report is the leaseholder/the managing agent. If the building hasn’t undergone a fire and risk assessment since the Grenfell tragedy, then this is probably currently in the works and you will not be able to do much until you have the results of this report back.

Grenfell Tower

It is extremely inconvenient and disheartening, however you have to understand that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of buildings nationwide that have to adhere to this new advice note since the multiple lives lost in the Grenfell fire due to the deadly flammable materials used on the block of flats. 

As you can imagine, a surveyor is not going to deem your property as suitable security for a Mortgage if they cannot prove that it adheres to relevant legal requirements. 

Advice to those wanting to Remortgage a property with cladding issues Stay with your current lender and do a rate switch. This is simple, you choose a new product from their latest Mortgage product range and avoid going on the variable rate. A valuation is not required for this. You can make this kind of switch in branch, over the phone and sometimes online.

Advice for those wanting to Buy a property with cladding issues
Avoid avoid avoid. Don’t do it. Walk away.