Homebuyers warned of potential Japanese Knotweed headache ahead of Stamp Duty deadline

Date published: 24 February 2021

In the rush to meet March 31 Stamp Duty deadline, homebuyers are being warned not to rush ahead assuming the property they are buying is not affected by Japanese Knotweed.

Whilst viewing properties during the winter months it is easy to focus on the internal features and not pay as much attention to the garden. 

However, it could prove a costly mistake if it isn’t considered at all. 

As with many garden plants and shrubs Japanese Knotweed dies back in the winter and can appear dead, therefore making it much harder to spot.

It is the responsibility of the sellers to complete a Property Information Form which asks numerous questions about the property. 

Recent changes to the guidance accompanying this form has resulted in an increase in “unknown” to the question about Japanese Knotweed.

Research carried out by Environet also shows that some sellers would be willing to conceal Japanese Knotweed growing in their garden, meaning that buyers would only discover it once gardens spring back to life in a few weeks’ time.

Victoria Marshall, Head of Conveyancing at Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers, said: “Japanese Knotweed can seriously impact the value of a property. 

"We would recommend that buyers carry out their own investigations particularly if the seller isn’t confidently offering assurances that Knotweed isn’t growing on the property.” 

Buyers are particularly vulnerable at this time of year as the plant will either look dead or not be visible, however sellers are legally responsible for declaring if their property has Japanese Knotweed. 

Investigations can be carried out by arranging a professional Japanese Knotweed survey which will confirm the presence of knotweed even if it is under the ground at the moment.

Ms Marshall warned: “Don’t be pressured to complete even with the stamp duty deadline looming.

"The cost of treatment and loss in value to your property, if it was discovered later, would in most cases be far greater than the stamp duty saving currently available.”

If sellers have deliberately concealed Japanese Knotweed they could find themselves being sued for misrepresentation,  leading to legal fees and compensating the buyer for the inevitable decrease in the property’s value.

“It is always best to be totally honest about Japanese Knotweed from the beginning," added Ms Marshall.

"If you ensure there is a treatment plan in place this will satisfy a buyer’s mortgage lender and in turn help prevent further the delay on selling a property."

If the value of your home has been affected by Japanese knotweed or you discover the plant after you’ve moved house or find the plant growing from a neighbouring property, contact Christopher Burke Head of Litigation at Pearson Solicitors and Financial who will be able to advise you further.

For further information on buying or selling a property contact Victoria Marshall on 0161 785 3500 or via email at: Victoria.marshall@pearsonlegal.co.uk or if you need advice on handling Japanese Knotweed on your property contact: Christopher.Burke@pearsonlegal.co.uk

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