The number of compensation claims involving Japanese Knotweed – one of the most invasive knotweed plant species in the UK – is likely to rise, with more homeowners expected to bring claims for the presence of the troublesome plant, especially those against various Councils or Network Rail.
In a landmark ruling at the beginning of this year, a Court of Appeal ruled that the claimant – homeowner Marc Davies, could recover damages from Bridgend Council in South Wales for the “residual” diminution in value – or “blight” – of his property. The landowner won his legal fight after complaining about Japanese Knotweed encroaching from council land.
Can a previous homeowner be sued for the presence of Japanese Knotweed?
Yes. In another case highlighted earlier this year, a Central London County court heard that during the property sale, the seller had answered no on a form asking if the property had been affected by Knotweed. The claimant sued the defendant over the discovery of the plant, accusing the other party of misrepresenting whether there was Knotweed at the property when he sold it. The court ruled in the claimant’s favour, and the new property owner was awarded £32,000 in damages – read about the case here.
It is thought that these legal victories are likely to set a precedent and open the doors to more knotweed damages claims against local authorities or previous homeowners.
What is Japanese Knotweed?
Japanese Knotweed (Knotweed) is an invasive non-native plant which can cause significant damage to buildings and biodiversity, can be difficult and costly to remove and affects the value and insurability of a property. Subsequently, the Government website has a whole section devoted to the issue: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-japanese-knotweed-from-spreading
As the Government website says:
“You must stop Japanese Knotweed on your land from spreading off your property. Soil or plant material contaminated with non-native and invasive plants like Japanese Knotweed can cause ecological damage and may be classified as controlled waste.
You do not legally have to remove Japanese Knotweed from your land unless it’s causing a nuisance, but you can be prosecuted for causing it to spread into the wild.”
Neighbour Disputes Claims
Being involved in a dispute with a neighbour, local authority or a previous owner over your property or neighbouring land can be highly stressful, and it is not always obvious how to resolve matters of this nature. Many issues can arise, and problems are so varied, and the solution to any specific dispute will depend on the case’s circumstances. Therefore, providing a standard set of guidelines for dealing with every neighbour dispute is not plausible. However, seeking legal advice as soon as possible can minimise the impact of the dispute, which, if left too long, can end up in lengthy and costly legal battles.
Our specialist neighbour dispute solicitors can help assess your case and discuss the best way forward. You can also read our previous article on resolving boundary disputes HERE.
Contact a member of our dispute team below to discuss the best way forward for you, and we will provide you with further and specific advice tailored to your circumstances. You can also call our litigation department on 0330 0250 178
This blog post is not intended to be taken as advice or acted upon. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our team of solicitors.