Timms Solicitors Japanese Knotweed Property Seminar

Following the expansion of the Timms property team, we recently hosted our first in-house ‘Property Pop-Up’ seminar.

We were delighted to welcome Mat Day, Regional Director from Environet to our Derby office to deliver a highly entertaining and informative presentation.

Japanese Knotweed remains a serious issue for property owners, buyers, sellers, developers and surveyors.  Mat’s slides included a scary ‘heat map’ showing the prevalence of Knotweed – much of our core business area is seriously affected.

Some of our guests were experienced property surveyors and land managers, others were keen gardeners.  We were all shocked at some of the photographs Mat showed us, illustrating how difficult it can be to spot Knotweed especially when it has been treated with chemicals, burned or cut back.  When treated with certain weedkillers, Knotweed react and the leaves can change shape so that it becomes far more difficult to recognise.  Mat helpfully mentioned that if you’re not sure whether you have Knotweed on your property, Environet are happy to offer a free identification service.

Why the worry?

Japanese Knotweed and other similar plants are aggressive, invasive and destructive.  They grow vigorously and can cause serious damage to buildings, hardstanding and drains – even growing through concrete.

Who should worry?

  1. Sellers:
    • When selling your home, you will be required to complete a property information form to be passed to the buyer’s solicitors. The latest version of this standard form specifically asks whether the property is affected by Japanese Knotweed and you would be required to answer ‘yes; no; don’t know’.
    • Sellers are legally obliged to give honest answers and not conceal the truth, e.g. by attempting to disguise or remove the offending plant. Dishonest replies could lead to an expensive claim for misrepresentation or fraud.
    • There is a similar requirement on sellers of commercial property including offices, industrial units or bare land.
  1. Buyers
    • When buying land, property or a home, in addition to checking the information forms provided by the seller you should always undertake a survey. If you are particularly concerned about invasive plant species you can instruct a specialist report to deal with this aspect as a standalone issue, separate from a routine building or land survey.
    • To be on the safe side, a specialist report should always be commissioned if the Seller has indicated that they “don’t know” whether there are any invasive plants at the property.
    • Where a Seller acknowledges that Knotweed or similar plants are present, they should also disclose evidence of a management plan, details of any treatment carried out and an insurance backed guarantee. The guarantee should be checked to ensure that it provides sufficient cover and is capable of benefitting the next owners and mortgage lenders, not just the party who paid for the original treatment.
    • The presence of Knotweed, even with a treatment plan, can make it harder to mortgage a property.
  1. Commercial land managers and landlords
    • Those responsible for larger land holdings need to be particularly vigilant to the presence of invasive species.
    • The plants can spread quickly and grow very vigorously in season.
    • Knotweed particularly favours water courses, railway lines, landfill and brownfield sites.
    • Where these border third party land this can soon become a very expensive land management issue.
The law

Japanese Knotweed is one of several plants which are governed by Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 so great care should be taken not to unwittingly commit an offence, e.g. by letting Knotweed spread into the wild from your property.  It’s also included in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.


Knotweed is best tackled by the professionals as, wrongly treated, it can return more vigorously.  Mat detailed a range of remedies which Environet are able to provide, depending on the circumstances.  We all went away a little wiser and confident that we know where to turn as and when this issue arises on our land transactions!

Don’t miss our next Property Pop-Up seminar in November: contact S.Jeffery@timms-law.com to join our mailing list.

Blog by Area of Expertise