Japanese Knotweed – the problem that won’t go away
PUBLISHED: 13:23 30 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:23 30 August 2018
Caroline Linsdell, partner at Cozens-Hardy solicitors, looks at the knotty problem of Japanese Knotweed.
Throughout the recent heatwave little seems to have grown in the gardens. However, as the rain arrives, so everything starts to spring back into life, including invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed.
An attractive ornamental plant, it was first introduced into the UK in the 19th century. However, it is capable of causing substantial damage to property, growing at the rate of up to 20cm a day, and forcing its way through brick and concrete.
In a recent case, heard only last month by the Court of Appeal, it was held that knotweed could be an actionable cause of nuisance even before it causes physical damage to neighbouring land. In this case, Network Rail was held liable for Japanese Knotweed on its property, with the neighbouring home owners successfully claiming for the diminished ability to enjoy the amenity of their property.
Owners and occupiers of commercial properties should also be alert.
In the case of a commercial lease, it is frequently the tenant who is responsible for carrying out repairs to the property, and for complying with regulations affecting its use.
If a property is found to have Japanese Knotweed on it, a tenant could be faced with the costs of eradicating it and making good any damage it has caused – which could be substantial if drains and foundations are affected.
A tenant who is well-advised will want an assurance from the landlord that the landlord will take responsibility for eradicating it and for any repairs which are necessary to the property. The landlord should also keep the tenant (as occupier) indemnified against any claims from neighbouring property owners, such as the nuisance claim brought against Network Rail.
Japanese Knotweed will soon start to die back, so now is the best time to check for it. If it is present, do not attempt to deal with it yourself, as there are strict regulations that must be complied with.
It is imperative that you call in the experts who will deal with it under a strict and regulated programme of eradication and subsequent monitoring.