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Property sellers face a ‘knotty’ issue

Napthens - April 23rd 2015

Sellers are required to disclose information on the property forms provided to their buyer, as to whether their property is affected by the Japanese knotweed plant.  They are also required to confirm as to whether there is a management plan in place relating to this.

This question has been added to the standard property forms and sellers need to ensure that they are honest and open in their replies.

It may seem quite a strange and specific question however, according to official reports, Japanese knotweed is widespread in Great Britain, although generally not abundant, except in urban areas.

The issue for buyers is whether they can obtain a mortgage for a property which may be affected by the plant.  The attitude of lenders will affect the saleability of the property and consequently, its value.

Although a number of mortgage lenders have in the past refused to lend on affected properties, most lenders does take a measured and practical view.  The current guidance from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, states that they ‘expect the presence of Japanese knotweed to be noted on a residential valuation report’.  RICS Red Book guidance requires the valuer to indicate the presence of ‘invasive vegetation’.

There is no blanket policy from lenders which prevents them from lending on properties which have Japanese knotweed, although the difficulty in treating Japanese knotweed has seen some historical reluctance to lend.

Individual lenders will take into account a range of factors when considering when to lend on a property, looking at specific circumstances, and some lenders consider applications on a case-by-case basis. Where remediation works are being implemented to remove Japanese knotweed, generally lenders look for evidence of an initial treatment together with a commitment for an ongoing treatment programme.

It is paramount for a buyer to be made aware of the presence of knotweed at the earliest stage.  Investigations concerning its treatment and management can then be ascertained and lending options explored.

If you have any queries or want to discuss this issue further do feel free to contact the Napthens’ team.