Property developers can sell new homes without disclosing the risk of Japanese knotweed, putting buyers at risk of significant removal costs says Manchester law firm, Graham Coffey & Co. The firm has launched a petition calling on the government to close the loophole in the law.
Stuart Snape, partner and head of Japanese knotweed Claims at Graham Coffey & Co, says that property developers are under no obligation to reveal the past presence of knotweed when they sell a new home.
According to Mr Snape, property developers are obliged to declare and treat the presence of knotweed as part of the planning process, but are not required to disclose this to buyers of the new homes – which may be completed many years later.
“We have seen many instances of developers insufficiently treating Japanese knotweed in order to achieve a short-term removal from the site – but this is not enough to prevent it from returning. Then, they will sell the new build property without mentioning the infestation,” said Mr Snape.
At present property developers are not required to complete a form TA6, which must be completed by private individuals, when selling their homes. This provides detailed information about the property, including the presence of knotweed.
Now, Mr Snape has launched a petition on change.org, calling on The Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to make it a legal requirement for property developers to disclose the detection of Japanese knotweed before the sale of a property.
“Japanese knotweed is treated with great caution by mortgage lenders and property professionals,” said James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions. “We have certainly seen cases in the past of surveyors facing negligence claims where they have missed the presence of knotweed.”
Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive plant which has been linked to significant structural damage to properties. It has been classified as ‘controlled waste’ under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and must be disposed of securely if found. However the government has recently asked for the risks of knotweed to be reassessed (see Brunel News November 2019).
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