RICS SAY THAT JAPANESE KNOTWEED “IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE FOR HOMES”

Fast-spreading and destructive plant can make homes unsellable or knock off 15pc prices
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said Japanese knotweed was not the “bogey plant” people feared
Japanese knotweed is no longer a “death sentence” for property sales, according to experts who warned the plant had been demonised by “myths and misconceptions” in recent years.
The plant is fast-spreading, notoriously difficult to kill and has long been dreaded by homeowners because of its destructive qualities. Its very presence can wipe huge sums from the value of a property and even cause sales to fall through.
However, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, an influential trade body, today claimed Japanese knotweed was not always the “bogey plant” many people feared.
Philip Santo, the author of guidance published for consultation by Rics, said: “Creating confidence and awareness that knotweed isn’t a death sentence for home sales is key.
“In most instances the weed can be remediated with effective treatment – so it’s critical that all those involved in the home buying and selling process have access to unbiased, factual information, that sets out when they need to obtain reputable remediation services.”
Japanese knotweed can destroy gardens and houses and, while it lays dormant underground in winter months, it grows in the summer in bamboo-like stems up to 3m (9.8ft).
Rics estimated 1.45 million homes are affected by the plant in the UK. Its presence can wipe between 10 and 15pc off a property’s value and in some cases cause sales to fall through.
Many lenders are unwilling to offer mortgages on homes where the weed is present, rendering the property unsellable in most cases.
But Rics warned these fears had been fuelled by incorrect information about what the plant was capable of. It said with expert help sales could still proceed.
Nigel Sellars, of the professional body, said: “We’ve launched this consultation ensuring the lending community, homebuyers and our chartered professionals get the opportunity to directly engage on how to dispel the myths and misconceptions.
“We want to help unblock needlessly affected home sales and play our part in the built environment’s war on knotweed.”
Mr Sellars warned the property market and those stuck in unsellable homes needed clarity as quickly as possible.
In 2019 a report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee warned banks were adopting an “overly cautious” approach to the issue, even in cases where the invasive plant posed no practical threat.
MPs at the time warned mortgage lenders were relying on discredited scientific evidence and noted that European banks were far less risk-averse to lending on properties with the plant.
Japanese knotweed was first introduced to Britain in the 19th century and was popular with landscapers because of the speed and density with which it grew.
The plant can also often be found close to railways because of its historic and widespread use to support tracks and embankments.
Earlier this year four homeowners won tens of thousands of pounds in a claim against Network Rail regarding the growth of Japanese knotweed on their properties that started on railway lines.