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Buyers and sellers in the UK are being advised to check for signs of the invasive Japanese knotweed plant in gardens, or else they could face criminal prosecution. The government has announced measures aimed at controlling the spread of non-native plants, including the invasive Japanese knotweed and those who fail to identify, destroy and remove these plants from their property could be fined up to £2,500 or be given an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO). According to Alison Wacey, a partner at Stratford on Avon firm Lodders Solicitors, both vendors and purchasers of residential property are now deemed to have a duty of care when it comes to selling and buying houses: ‘Checking for Japanese knotweed and other prolific, invasive plants should be regarded with similar importance as checking for signs of damp or a faulty roof at a property,’ she said. ‘When a valuer visits the property before sale, home owners should ask them to include investigating for evidence of these invasive plants. Similarly, once the purchaser’s surveyor is appointed, this is the buyer’s opportunity to have the property checked for evidence of these non-native plants,’ she explained. ‘Japanese Knotweed is very resilient, can even grow through tarmac and cause structural damage, and will grow vigorously after being cut down. One of the most effective ways of getting rid of it is to dig down up to three metres to ensure all the roots have been removed, a massive, but necessary undertaking,’ she added. She also pointed out that the removed plant is classed as ‘contaminative waste’ and there are controls on its disposal, which have to be adhered to and also carry an additional expense. ‘Not only do home owners run the risk of criminal proceedings for not identifying and removing the weed before sale of the property completes, but there could also be potential repercussions for them from their buyers if they should be hit with a hefty bill for removing the weed, for example, or perhaps damage from it to a neighbouring property, or even a criminal prosecution,’ said Wacey. ‘Additionally, home owners have to be just as vigilant with checks of the plant is found on neighbouring properties; if it is found in your own or a neighbours garden, the value of your home will be severely affected,’ she continued. ‘It’s a case of buyers, and vendors, beware of this knotty problem. Take proactive steps to avoid falling foul of the law and deal with it properly if you identify an invasion on your own or a neighbouring property,’ she concluded. Continue reading →
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