Will Bamboo Replace The Invasive Japanese Knotweed?

There is a new weed on the block, called Bamboo, which could rival the invasive plant Japanese Knotweed, warns Environet UK.

The aggressive bamboo is set to become a major problem amongst conveyancers and homeowners who do not realise that most species are invasive if left alone.

One type of ‘running’ bamboo can extend up to 30ft beneath the ground, according to Environet UK.

Due to its hardiness and easy growth, bamboo has become popular in the UK in the last few years, and common in urban areas due to its screening nature by giving privacy to those gardens living in built up locations of cities who may have gardens which are overlooked by their surrounding neighbours.

However, bamboo is found to be highly invasive and can easily spread out of control like Japanese Knotweed. Unlike knotweed though, bamboo has no lending restrictions and it is not the requirement of sellers to tell prospective buyers that the plant has proved a big problem.

Whereas Japanese Knotweed poses an enormous risk to the native bio-diversity in the UK and it is against the law to cause or allow the plant to spread in the wild.

Yet bamboo can pose the same amount as risk as knotweed and damage to property can be costly and cause acrimonious disputes between neighbours if it spreads onto adjoining properties.

In the spring, a homeowner was awarded £50K following a chartered surveyor who failed to identify Japanese knotweed prior to the potential buyer purchasing a £1.2 million London flat.

Mark Montaldo, solicitor and director at CEL Solicitors which handles legal claims relating to invasive plants, said: “Bamboo is a growing problem, as unlike Japanese knotweed it’s not officially classed as an invasive species and there are currently no restrictions on planting it.

“Consequently, there has been an increase in the number of neighbourly disputes following encroachment of bamboo across garden borders.

“I have acted for a number of clients who have taken legal action against their neighbour for nuisance caused as a result of a bamboo infestation where the offending party has had to pay significant removal costs and legal bills.

“Due to the increase in nuisance claims it is something that the mortgage companies are closely looking at and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them imposing lending restrictions on properties that suffer with bamboo infestations in the future.”

Environet UK advises homeowners that all bamboo should be planted in containers with root barriers to stop it from spreading.

Nic Seal, MD of Environet UK, which deals with all types of invasive plants, said: “Bamboo is a vigorous and fast-growing plant that has been steadily growing in popularity in the UK over the last decade or so; but it’s very difficult to contain and virtually impossible to kill with herbicide.

“It’s commonly sold at nurseries and garden centres across the country with little or no warnings about its invasive nature or sensible advice about how to contain it.”

“Estate agents and surveyors should look out for signs of the plant growing out of control and alert potential buyers to the problem, which usually requires professional excavation.”

Introduced to the UK in the 1840s as an ornamental plant, Japanese knotweed now grows rampantly along railways, waterways, in parks and gardens and is notoriously difficult to treat. Its presence can prevent a mortgage lender approving a loan and therefore impact a property’s value by up to 10%.

It seems there might be light at the end of a long tunnel as earlier this year, it was revealed that Japanese Knotweed will eventually be brought under control by 2040 as turnover of property and strict rules imposed by mortgage lenders will mean most cases are professionally treated within 22 years – according to research by Environet UK.

Furthermore, Brits are confident when it comes to buying property infested with knotweed as 32% who are aware of the invasive plant are still prepared to buy an affected property, according to new YouGov research commissioned by Environet UK.

As a conveyancer, do you think bamboo will replace Japanese Knotweed? Will it have an impact on the conveyancing transaction?


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