Japanese knotweed is a problem throughout parts of the UK where its rapid spread and destructive nature can cause extensive damage to buildings, drains, parks and the walls and gardens of properties. The Government is alive to this problem and has now classified the plant as controlled waste, whereby only properly licenced organisations can remove it from an infected site.
Knotweed problems were recently highlighted in the case of Network Rail Infrastructure Limited .v. Williams & Waistell  EWCA7 Civ1514 which gave useful guidance on the law in this area, to both home owners, as well as prospective purchasers. The judgment, went as far as to hold that knotweed on neighbouring land is an actionable nuisance even if it has not yet entered the land. The reason given by the court was that if knotweed is in the vicinity of a property, then it can interfere with the amenity value of that property. Furthermore, the court found that an actionable nuisance may be caused by the inaction or omission of a property owner as well as some positive activity that leads to an interference with the amenity value.
It is clear therefore that if you are a home owner with knotweed on your land, then it must be dealt with immediately to avoid an actionable nuisance claim being brought by a neighbour. Equally, if you are a home owner and know that knotweed could be growing on an adjoining property, then you should immediately inform the land owner of your concerns. If you are a purchaser of property, your surveyor should inspect the garden and also the vicinity if possible. The last thing you want to happen after buying a property is a neighbour bringing a claim against you, even though you did not allow the knotweed to grow in the first place.
The costs involved in properly clearing Japanese knotweed can be extensive. We therefore recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible if you have concerns either due to knotweed on your own or a neighbour’s property.
Please also view our previous blog on Japanese knotweed.
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