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Lifestyle AT HOME WITH LEASEHOLD GARDEN


The UK is under attack from Japanese Knotweed… or is it?


Mike Clough unravels the truth about this invasive plant


If you were to believe everything you read, then you may be under the impression that your block could be under attack from


Japanese knotweed - an alien plant that can grow through anything and smashes concrete for fun. There are many horror stories around but should you be in a panic and be unable to sleep or is this all down to 'scaremongering' by unscrupulous contractors trying to make a quick buck?


The first Japanese Knotweed plants in the UK were brought back from Japan by a Dutch gardener called Phillipp F Von Siebold around 1845. He sent samples to Kew Gardens where the Royal Horticultural Society sold it on to the general public. From 1850 onwards it was planted in wetland margins and then used as a screening plant due to its rapid growth. It was then recommended for embankment stabilisation and planted as fodder for cattle. Small fragments of Japanese Knotweed have the ability to produce new growth, which resulted in its rapid spread beyond areas where it was first planted.


Issue 20 What do mortgage lenders say?


From its introduction to its rapid accidental spread, Japanese Knotweed has gone from being a prized ornamental plant to an object of complete paranoia. Recent statements by mortgage lenders have fuelled the panic over Japanese Knotweed by stating that they “will not provide a mortgage on a property with Japanese Knotweed within 30 metres of a boundary”. The situation has been further confused by one lender that would provide a mortgage on a property with Japanese Knotweed but would not lend on a property with knotweed just outside of the ownership.


While this may sound a little confusing, if you actually think it through then it does make sense – knotweed within a boundary can be managed and treated, knotweed outside a boundary is outside your control.


The hard facts of issues relating to mortgages are that in these harsh economic times, if a lender has any reason to withhold money then they will, so what should you do? The careful homeowner should have answers for the surveyor who spots knotweed on their property. Showing that your property manager or RMC is employing a trained specialist to deal with the problem will satisfy most lenders but a detailed report prepared using advice and information available on the internet should also be sufficient to push a sale through. Well documented photographs and details of the precautions taken should be kept, as well as marking and fencing areas where treatment has been undertaken. If a detailed programme of works has been commissioned and careful track kept relating to areas of growth, then there is no reason for a lender to withhold money on a mortgage.


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