Japanese knotweed is a hot topic within the UK property market at the moment. More and more people are struggling to keep the weed at bay and are finding the whole process extremely stressful. But what is it and why is it so difficult to get rid of?
We spoke to Japanese Knotweed experts, JHPS, who were able to give us more information on the weed and why it has become a problem in the UK.
1) How long have you been dealing with Japanese knotweed?
Our sister company JHPS Gardens Ltd has been treating Japanese Knotweed for over 20 years and, as a result of our success, we decided to start a dedicated company in 2014. We have had a 100% success rate since we treated our first stand of Japanese Knotweed all those years ago.
2) What made you decide to focus on Japanese Knotweed as a business?
Japanese Knotweed is a rapidly growing issue in the UK and we like to think that we can be part of the cure. Having always worked in the horticulture industry, we have a passion for topics like this. We were seeing the destructive nature of Japanese Knotweed on the ecosystem first hand and we decided we had to help our clients. We all know Japanese Knotweed can be very damaging to property, but not everyone considers the damage it does to other species also. It can starve other plants of light and other nutrients which can, in turn, have an impact on the wildlife that feeds off the foliage.
3) What are the tell-tale signs to look out for?
There are several indicators that people can look out for. The first is the leaves which are often described as being “heart” or “shield” shaped – they have a flat base, which comes down to a point. The next indicator is the stems which form a zig-zag pattern between the leaves and the green stems have distinctive purple spots. The main stands are hollow like bamboo and have the same purple speckles as the stems.
4) Why has it become such a problem in the UK or has it always been a problem, but only now do people know how damaging it is?
Japanese Knotweed has always been a danger, we just didn’t know it. As the name suggests, Japanese Knotweed is native to Japan where the climate and natural predators help to keep its growth at bay. Here in the UK, however, Japanese Knotweed has no predator to control its growth. This means that it has spread like wildfire across the country. When first arriving in the UK, it was gifted to Kew Gardens as a decorative plant as it blooms beautiful white flowers in the summer. Upon discovering how rapidly it grows, the plant was then used to line railway tracks to keep noise at bay (and hold the embankments in place?). Now, the railway lines help to further spread the Japanese Knotweed, as the trains fly past they sometimes disturb the plant spreading it further down the tracks. We are now trying to repair the damage that was done all those years ago.
5) Where was your worst case and why?
The worst case we have dealt with was definitely when a client had made a cash purchase on a site on which he planned to construct a series of developments. Unfortunately, the client did not have his own surveys conducted and the seller’s surveys did not pick up the extensive presence of Japanese Knotweed on the site. Due to this, the client was unable to develop on the land immediately because excavating the Japanese Knotweed would have made developing on the site economically unviable. The client proceeded with a survey report & management plan on the site, and is underway with a herbicide treatment, and he will be able to develop on site in October 2020.
6) How does it affect land or property?
Like all plants, Japanese Knotweed needs light to survive which is what ultimately makes it such a danger to property. Japanese Knotweed has a root spread of up to seven metres meaning that, in one growing period, it can travel up to that distance even if it hasn’t been disturbed. If a piece of Japanese Knotweed rhizome makes its way beneath a property it will attempt to make its way above ground in any way it can, often seeking out cracks or weaknesses in foundations and other structures that otherwise may never have been detected. Once inside the cracks, the rapid growth means that it is able to force open cracks and possibly cause irreparable structural damage.
Because of the damage it is capable of causing and its reputation for being so difficult to remediate, any land or property that has Japanese Knotweed is at risk of being devalued by up to 100% in some cases. This is why it is so important to instruct an expert as soon as you suspect there is Japanese Knotweed.
7) Top expert tip and what makes you industry experts/different from other companies who remove Japanese Knotweed?
Our top tip for anyone who suspects they have Japanese Knotweed is to not disturb it. We’re here to help, which is why we offer free of charge photographic identification to everyone. We pride ourselves on being honest and helpful - if we can see that the plant in question isn’t Japanese Knotweed then there is no need for us to conduct a site visit. We are different because we care. We know how stressful it can be as a homeowner to suspect that you have Japanese Knotweed on your property, which is why we answer the phone 7 days a week - early in the mornings and late in the evenings. We are always on hand to offer advice and reassurance to anyone who needs it, and we will always go above and beyond to ensure the best for our clients.
In most cases, Japanese Knotweed is found on a surveyor’s reports when a property is being sold. A quick search on Google will tell the homeowner that their house is virtually value-less with Japanese Knotweed in place – but we don’t believe that should be the case. Wherever possible, we endeavour to be on site within 24-48 hours and can conduct the first treatment this quickly too, ensuring that the house sale is able to be processed at the full market value – it’s this service that makes us different.
In addition to this, within our group, we have an in-house legal counsel who is able to advise our clients on any legal disputes that may arise. For example; Japanese Knotweed arriving from neighbouring land and impacting the value of a property. Again, we go above and beyond our competitors to offer our clients the best service possible.
Here at The Property Buying Companywe have worked with lots of customers who are wanting to sell their property, but have a Japanese Knotweed problem.
Unlike many auction houses and mortgage lenders, we won’t turn you away if you don’t have a Japanese Knotweed treatment plan in place. Although Japanese Knotweed can affect the saleability of your house, our many years of experience and list of specialists mean that we can buy your property and eliminate the problem, leaving you to move on to pastures new.
So – if you have a Japanese knotweed problem and want to sell your property then get in touch today. We’ll give you advice and can offer you a fair cash sum if you decide to sell.