On 2nd March this year, the Met Office reported that February 2020 had been the wettest February on record and formed part of the fifth wettest winter since 1862. The resultant flooding was well reported in the media before being overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specialists in the removal of Japanese knotweed, Environet UK, have warned that floodwaters help the spread of invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed, with this spread likely to become apparent during the spring as plants start to grow again. The founder of Environet UK has advised that:

“Homeowners whose homes and gardens have been flooded this autumn and winter should be extra vigilant for signs of invasive plants which may have hitched a ride to new locations on or near their property.”

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed was introduced to the UK from Japan in the 19th century as a decorative garden plant.  Unfortunately, it has since spread to the wild proving itself to be a fast growing, invasive weed that can cause severe damage to property if left untreated.  We have previously written about Japanese Knotweed and the recent updates to the Property Information Form, which now deals with this issue in more detail.

How to Spot Japanese Knotweed​

When looking to purchase a property, it is always advisable to have a survey carried out, irrespective of whether or not mortgage finance is being obtained. The survey should reveal any existence of Japanese Knotweed. Unfortunately, Japanese Knotweed can be present below the surface without any obvious signs of growth, so even a good survey that does not identify it being present, may not be definitive.

If Japanese Knotweed is found growing within a property’s boundaries, the homeowner is responsible for having it treated professionally; treatment must be accompanied by an insurance backed guarantee. Treatment can be costly and several stages of treatment are usually required over the course of several years.  Without a treatment plan in place with an insurance backed guarantee, homeowners may find the property hard to sell, especially to buyers who require mortgage finance.

Do any searches reveal the presence of Japanese Knotweed?

Unfortunately, there are no searches available to identify areas that are or have been affected by Japanese Knotweed. This recent warning though, does highlight the importance of obtaining a flood report when purchasing a property either as a standalone search or as part of a wider-ranging environmental search.

In addition, a property’s flood history can also be obtained directly from the Environment Agency. The difficulty with the information available specific to individual properties is that if a homeowner has not reported flooding at their property to an insurer or a public body, such as the Environment Agency or local authority, no data will be available for it.

For further advice relating to Japanese Knotweed and flooding issues before the purchase or sale of a residential property, please contact Farleys Solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry online and a member of the team will get in touch with you.