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Japanese Knotweed: a monster in your home

19 October 2018

With halloween (and my first wedding anniversary) approaching, I thought that it would be apt to talk about a monster of the home: Japanese knotweed.  Fallopia japonica – the scientific name – is an invasive plant that can turn a property into a ‘Little Home of Horrors’.  If you were looking to cause a genuine scare this Halloween then dressing as knotweed would definitely do this.*

The plant was brought over from Japan a few hundred years ago to help stabilise railway embankment.  The plant grows at a fast rate – up to 10cm a day during summer periods.  It is said to die back in the autumn period. Knotweed can go through tarmac, concrete and affect building foundations.  As a result, finding knotweed can affect the ability to get a mortgage over a property.

What does Japanese Knotweed look like?

The history and nature of the plant means that it is more likely to be found close to railways and waterways.  Knotweed has shield-shaped leaves and has bamboo-like stems.  On quick inspection of the below image, it does not appear to be anything out of the ordinary.  The dense growing nature of the plant should help in making it known.

Image obtained from the BBC

Japanese Knotweed – What can be done about it?

If you find that your home has knotweed on there then you should not attempt to remove it yourself.  The entire plant must always be removed as leaving only part behind can allow it to grow again.  Removing the plant should be done by specialists.  They will provide you with a treatment plan and certification which can allow a home to be mortgage-able again.

When buying a home – How do we check for Japanese Knotweed?

A seller is asked on the sale of every property whether they are aware of knotweed in their garden.  Their responses are sent to you as part of our legal pack.  As property transactions operate under the principle of ‘buyer beware’, it is up to you should verify any knotweed issues.  A surveyor will be able to identify knotweed as part of carrying out their survey report.

Fortunately, at the time of writing, according to Plant Tracker, cases in Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire are few and far between.  If you are selling or buying a home and you have concerns over the existence of knotweed then we will be able to help you with this information.

If you do need any help with buying or selling a property, with or without knotweed, please do visit our residential property page or fill in our online form.

*This is my attempt at humour, please don’t actually do this.

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