Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Is to Blame for Our Knotweed Tangle?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Is to Blame for Our Knotweed Tangle?

Article excerpt

Byline: Fiona McNulty OUR LAWYER ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS

QMY GIRLFRIEND and I have just bought a house together in south-east London. Shortly after moving in, we realised there is Japanese knotweed at the far end of our garden, yet this was not made apparent to us through the basic survey or seller's questionnaire. Do we have any claim against the seller or the surveyor? AWHEN you bought your property your solicitor should have ensured that the seller's solicitor provided a Property Information Form, which would have been fully completed, signed and dated by the seller.

There is a section in the form that specifically relates to Japanese knotweed, which can damage foundations and drainage and is difficult to kill. The relevant enquiry asks if the property is affected by Japanese knotweed and the seller should respond either yes, no or not known. Clearly, if the seller knew that Japanese knotweed was present in the garden, but failed to disclose this in the form, that could amount to misrepresentation.

Whether the "basic survey" was a building survey or a lenders' valuation, whoever carried it out should have considered whether Japanese knotweed was present. The presence and effects of this plant are one of the many considerations that may affect the value of a property and have to be considered when valuers and surveyors are assessing the market value.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has published guidance on Japanese knotweed and residential property. Speak to the lawyer who acted for you on your purchase.

QI AM a pensioner aged 69 living in a flat in London worth PS400,000, with 91 years left on the lease. Fifteen years ago I took out a loan of PS120,000 that I have to repay by June next year. When I took out the loan I planned to sell the flat, repay the money and move abroad.

My plans have since changed and I have no way of paying back the loan without selling the flat first. …

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