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Really need help urgently - knotweed?

(15 Posts)
CJCregg Thu 07-Jul-11 18:45:09

I originally posted this in gardening but am now also putting it in Property and Legal.

Absolutely DESPERATE for knotweed advice ...

I am about to exchange on a house and the surveyor has found knotweed coming through from neighbouring land. Do anybody know what I should do next? Apparently I'm lucky to have had my mortgage offer (it wasn't picked up on their valuation survey) and its continued presence could affect any future sale of the house.

I'm not even sure if it's the vendor's responsibility, as it's coming through/under the fence from neighbouring land. This is an area where the road next door park their cars, so I'm not sure who owns it.

I am really panicking here. Can anybody help?

TIA.

GeneralissimoVonBobbington Thu 07-Jul-11 18:49:02

Knotweed is quite serious and there is an obligation to deal with it and to dispose of it in a very specific way. You need to contact your solicitor and ask them about it, they should be able to advise what the implications are.

Don't assume that your mortgage offer won't be affected (I'm sure it's fine) but the solicitor will also be acting for the mortgage company and may have an obligation to report the discovery.

libelulle Thu 07-Jul-11 19:36:54

They don't have an obligation to reveal to the mortgage co, no - we asked our solicitor not to mention it and he was fine with that! Op, or depends how much you want the house and whether you want to sell soon. We are in what we hope is our forever house and we were prepared to take the gamble. Kw can be got rid of, it just takes time and persistence. We negotiated about 3 grand off our offer to pay for professional removal, but are actually trying to zap it with roundup ourselves. It's looking distinctly peeky alreadysmile I think the general consensus is that it is a nasty invasive weed, but that mortgage companies are massively overreacting. The only way our knotweed could conceivably pose a threat to our house is if the Roundup we use to deal with it spontaneously combusted in the lean-to.

libelulle Thu 07-Jul-11 19:40:17

And incidentally your solicitor does not act for the mortgage co- they act for you! Don't think our solicitor even asked for details of our mortgage co until just before exchange.

GeneralissimoVonBobbington Thu 07-Jul-11 19:42:08

<shakes head, wonders why she bothers>

"Section 14(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act
1981 (WCA 1981) states that “if any person plants or
otherwise causes to grow in the wild any plant which
is included in Part II of Schedule 9, he shall be guilty
of an offence.” Japanese knotweed is one of the
plants listed in the Schedule. Anyone convicted of an
offence under Section 14 of the WCA 1981 may face
a fine of £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment, or 2
years and/or an unlimited fine on indictment."

Taken from page 8 of the Environment Agency's guidance on knotweed

Batteryhuman Thu 07-Jul-11 19:45:10

Libellulle that is wrong I'm afraid. The Ops solicitor will almost certainly have been instructed by the mortgage co. and if he or she does not comply with the mortgage co's instructions and not only will the firm be liable but it will also be struck off the mortgage co's list of solicitors, so your solicitor may have been taking a big risk in not passing on the information.

CJCregg Thu 07-Jul-11 19:48:42

Thanks for your replies.

The surveyor has only just picked it up. We got a free valuation with the mortgage deal so I got an independent survey done, which is how this has come up. This survey doesn't go to the mortgage company.

It is a worry but we're hoping we can get an undertaking from the vendor to deal with it. I'm worried about getting this sorted, and also how knotweed - which appears a nightmare to get rid of - might affect us selling the house in the future. Ideally, we'll stay there for a number of years.

I'm so grateful for the responses, thank you all.

CJCregg Thu 07-Jul-11 19:50:28

No, I instructed the solicitor and he's nothing to do with the mortgage company. Similarly, although the surveyor was instructed by them for the valuation report, I paid her independently for the survey.

GeneralissimoVonBobbington Thu 07-Jul-11 20:01:56

CJCregg you misunderstand - your solicitor also acts for the mortgage company in the purchase. That is how it works. Otherwise the mortgage company would have its own solicitors (which you would have to pay for).

libelulle Thu 07-Jul-11 20:04:05

No need to be rude generalissimo. I wasn't denying that kw is a problem, though the act you specify deals mainly wiith intentional planting and spreading. You can't be prosecuted just for having it in your garden! It is an offense to knowingly allow it to spread off your land, but if you are taking steps to deal with it you'd most likely be covered. And obviously you don't stick the cuttings in the green bin!!!

If you take the legal package offered by the mortgage co, your solicitor might act fir both of you, but not if you instruct them independently. I can assure you our solicitor was not the type to flout his obligations.

I panicked too when we first identified the stuff, but we took advice from all manner of parties (including the environment agency!) and were satisfied we were taking an acceptable risk. Luckily it was winter which was why the mortgage valuer didn't notice. To be honest neither did the man doing our survey - only the eagle eyes of my mil located it.

libelulle Thu 07-Jul-11 20:11:08

Ah ok just doing some reading up. I see you are right in most cases, but sometimes mortgage cos do instruct their own conveyancers, and in our case they apparently did, for whatever reason. We were lucky it seems!

fapl Fri 08-Jul-11 21:06:00

There is no point you dealing with it on your own if your neighbours don't deal with it. Speak to the neighbours who are affected and see what they are planning to do, all affected neighbours I imagine should treat it together.

BikeRunSki Fri 08-Jul-11 21:22:27

I work for the Environment Agency. It is not an offence to have JK on your land, but it is an offence to spread it (you can spread it on the soles of shoes and boots, so you need to wash them). If it is on your land when you buy it, then it is a case of "buyer beware". But you can get rid of it, I think there are instructions on how to do this on our website, or there are contractors who will do so. It takes at least a couple of growing seasons though, but is deal-able with if you are planning to be there for a few years. Don't compost it - this will spread spores, don't burn it - this stimulates the growth. You need chemicals!!!! I don't know the chemical name, but I know that our own workforce use Roundup. I think the idea is to cut it down as much as possible; dig out all roots and pour on Roundup. You need to do this in the winter when it is not growing; and then repeat next year, and so on until it stops growing back. To get rid of the bits you cut down, leave them out to try on a poly sheet and incinerate when they are dry.

And as fapl says, you need to treat the whole system at once, so get together with your neighbours.

ProfessorCJCregglyPlank Fri 08-Jul-11 21:28:23

Thanks again for your replies. Especially bikerunski from the environmental agency angle.

Talked to solicitor, estate agent and vendor today. Vendor has booked an approved (by building societies) JK specialist to come out next week and quote for dealing with it, including the plants on neighbours' land. Vendor is going to pay for it and ensure that it is guaranteed, ongoing over several years or however long it takes to get rid of it. The contract will then be made over to me when I buy the house.

I am feeling a bit calmer about it now.

windrushbreeze Thu 13-Oct-11 15:36:59

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

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