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Guest Blog

David Layland, Managing Director of Japanese Knotweed Control

How insurance can eradicate stress over Japanese Knotweed

David Layland, Managing Director of Japanese Knotweed Control

16
Mar

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With at least one infestation of Japanese Knotweed in every 10km2 in the UK, there is a very good chance that every conveyancer has at some point dealt with a property at risk of an infestation of the invasive plant.

If property sellers fail to disclose the presence of Japanese Knotweed during the conveyancing process, they risk legal claims of misrepresentation brought against them. It is one of the biggest unmanaged risks in the UK property market.

The treatment of knotweed can leave property professionals in just as much risk as when the plant is first discovered. There is a common misconception that once it has been treated, the problem has disappeared forever, but if the plant has not yet completely decomposed there may still be nodules of viable material. Less than 0.7g of rhizome (the subterranean stem), the size of a fingernail, can spread and start an infestation. Even in winter when the plant appears dead, it is actually hibernating and will spread and cross contaminate if disturbed.

However, if managed and controlled correctly, an infestation need not ruin a sale. With specialist treatment and insurance in place, the risk can be managed over time. Conveyancers should be reassured that the presence of knotweed on a property should not affect a sale – provided the remediation strategy has the correct warranties and insurance.

By ensuring that their chosen knotweed professional can give the right information and backup support, conveyancers will have peace of mind, alongside the necessary legal guarantees to demonstrate that the knotweed problem is under control.

To avoid any concerns, conveyancers should seek reputable companies that offer an insurance-backed warranty on all treatment options. The property industry requires all work to be fully insured and underwritten specifically for the treatment of non-native plant species and ideally carrying professional indemnity cover including for structural damage.

The industry must continue to combat misinformation and push for a higher-level national standard for the management of the destructive weed.

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