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Five minutes on… Untangling Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweed is a rare but all-too-real challenge to the conveyancing process. And, as spring has now sprung and this problematic weed enters the fast-growing season, it’s worth conveyancing professionals’ time to ensure they’re up to date and fully informed about the latest guidance. 

We’ve put together a five-minute read to help you keep the conveyancing process on track and prevent you and your customers from getting tangled up in Japanese knotweed confusion: 

1. What is Japanese knotweed? 

  • Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing, invasive rhizome plant with deep, strong, and notoriously destructive roots 
  • It affects around 5% of UK properties 
  • It typically requires costly, specialist removal when detected 

2. Why does it matter to the conveyancing process? 

  • Japanese knotweed is mentioned in the TA6 property information form that property sellers must complete 
  • The presence of Japanese knotweed on or near a property tends to cause panic, not only because it requires specialist removal, but also because homeowners can be fined if they fail to contain and safely dispose of it 
  • This can lead to additional queries in the conveyancing process, problems with mortgage applications and in many cases, a complete change of heart on the part of the buyer 

3. What’s new in RICS and Law Society guidance? 

  • RICS has recently published new guidance which abolishes the 7-metre rule used by valuers to assess risk and which proposes a ‘more nuanced’ view of the problem 
  • As a result, valuers and surveyors are likely to advocate careful management, rather than complete eradication, of the weed 
  • Nevertheless, the TA6 form has been updated to require sellers to declare with absolute certainty whether Japanese knotweed is present or not – and in the case of a ‘no’ response, will be held liable on that basis 

4. What does that mean for my customers? 

  • It’s incumbent on conveyancing professionals to ensure that their customers fully understand the TA6 update and their liability regarding their declaration on Japanese knotweed 
  • There are, however, specialist indemnity products available via our OneSearch order portal to mitigate future claims risk, such as CLS PI.

5. How can I learn more? 

  • We ran a webinar – Japanese Knotweed and its Impact on the Conveyancing Process, which can be viewed here

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