Japanese knotweed 'puts most people off buying a property'

Peter Smyth

Source: @Photoshot

Here’s why

The presence of the invasive plant Japanese knotweed on or near a property would be enough to put most people in the UK off going ahead with a purchase, a new survey reveals.

Almost eight in 10 people who took part in a YouGov survey for Japanese knotweed specialists Environet said dealing with the fast-growing species not native to Britain would be too troublesome and they would consider buying other properties instead.

Japanese knotweed was brought into the UK in the 1800s as an ornamental plant that quickly became fashionable among the upper class. But, as the years went on, the attractive-looking plant with heart-shaped leaves firmly took root around Britain and started to grow out of control.

During peak summer growing season, Japanese knotweed can explode in growth by as much as 20cm a day and quickly overwhelm other plants in the area, even causing structural damage to properties. This occurs as it breaks through concrete and possibly piping and other systems in its unstoppable quest for light and water. Due to its complex and deep system of roots, Japanese knotweed can also be extremely difficult to eradicate.

Calling in the Experts

Even if the bushy parts are cut down, the roots will soon send shoots above ground and rapid growth will start all over again. It’s not always possible, or even advisable, for people to try and deal with a Japanese knotweed infestation on their property, and many call in Japanese knotweed specialists. These eradication experts typically use a combination of herbicide and dig-out methods to destroy the plant. The best ones provide a guarantee that lasts for around 10 years and covers any additional work that might be required. That’s enough to satisfy mortgage providers, as well as sellers and buyers.

Altogether, 69 per cent of those questioned in the YouGov survey — conducted in May this year and involving over 2,000 people — cited perceived difficulties in removing Japanese knotweed as the primary reason they would not go ahead with the purchase of a property. Japanese knotweed specialists, however, can often do the job in a matter of days. Others (56 per cent) were worried about the costs involved and said it would be too expensive, while 57 per cent of those who responded said it would take too much of their time to deal with the problem.

Japanese knotweed is found all over the UK, but is more concentrated in some areas, particularly in Wales and the south of England, according to Environet’s records. And most people (75 per cent) are aware of the plant and its destructive tendencies, the YouGov survey said, possibly as a result of headline-grabbing media stories detailing homeowners’ battles with Japanese knotweed.

Dream Home Hopes

Environet founder and managing director Nic Seal said Japanese knotweed was particularly hard for people to try and deal with themselves. It frequently led to many years of frustration as it kept re-growing once cut back.

“Homeowners are right to be concerned about the threat posed by Japanese knotweed. Attempting to deal with it by cutting it down repeatedly, burning it, burying it or using common weedkillers simply won’t work, as the plant can lie dormant beneath the ground, only to strike again when people least expect it,” he said.

“Yet for those wishing to buy or sell a property, it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Japanese knotweed can be dealt with once and for all, within a matter of days from discovery. So there is hope for buyers who may have otherwise walked away from their dream home.”

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