Plant experts predict Invasives Code will help property industry

Experts in invasive plant species, including Japanese knotweed, are calling for greater uptake of the Invasives Code, predicting it will help property professionals to understand the Code and its implications.

Formerly known as the Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) Code, it is set by The Invasive Non-Native Specialists Association (INNSA) and the recently renamed Invasives Code, will provide quality assurance and set industry standards, which are independently assessed.

Japanese Knotweed Control, a founder member of INNSA, is calling for all non-native plant remediation specialists to subscribe in a bid to boost standards in the industry and provide reassurance to the property sector.

Japanese Knotweed is an invasive plant whose rapid growth can destroy man-made and natural structures in its path, costing the UK hundreds of millions per year to remediate. Construction sites are at particularly high risk, as development uncovers and stimulates infested sites, and knotweed grows far faster when disturbed.

Japanese knotweed is believed to be the biggest unmanaged risk in the UK property market. As many as two thirds of UK mortgage brokers have reported they have had transactions negatively affected by Japanese knotweed and some even forced to withdraw mortgage applications because of the presence of the invasive plant.

If managed and controlled correctly, Japanese knotweed can be eradicated over time, but it is not like a common weed and needs both specialist treatment and insurances to guarantee the works.

The Invasives Code, which requires subscribers to meet demanding technical standards set by INNSA, aims to combat this by setting out minimum warranty and insurance requirements, consumer service levels, and complaint handling process for Japanese knotweed remediation companies. This is applicable to both residential properties and also to the commercial sector.

These high standards will reassure property professionals who are risk of sales falling through. Under consumer protection regulations, estate agents are obligated to advise buyers of any material facts that could affect the decision to buy, including the presence of Japanese knotweed. If property sellers fail to disclose it during the conveyancing process, they risk legal claims of misrepresentation brought against them. Some lenders will also outright reject any mortgages on an affected property.

Japanese Knotweed Control Managing Director, David Layland explains: “There is a known case of knotweed infestation in at least every 10km square of the British Isles. The renaming of the Invasives Code gives greater transparency and peace of mind to the clients of subscribers. This will build confidence as property owners, professionals and the industries that serve them, know they are assured of top quality service.

“We are proud to be subscribers of the Code and hope that more companies join us in becoming thoroughly vetted and quality checked to meet the Code’s independently monitored and demanding standards.”

The Code is regulated by the independent Property Codes Compliance Board (PCCB). All members must also meet the independently assessed ISO 9001 and 14001 standards under Amenity Assured, run by Government-backed independent standards institute BASIS.

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