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Japanese Knotweed - a landowner's nightmare

Japanese Knotweed - a landowner's nightmare

What should you do if your property is threatened by Japanese Knotweed or your property already has it growing? A recent case looks at the liabilities arising from this serious nuisance plant.

What should you do if your property is being threatened by Japanese Knotweed or your property already has it growing? This plant is tough to kill and has the reputation of being so destructive (breaking up concrete) that mortgage lenders supposedly give prospective securities a swerve, if it has the plant anywhere near it. Where it is removed its waste is even considered “controlled waste” under environmental legislation.

The press has taken an interest in a case that has recently reached the Court of Appeal (Waistell and Williams v Network Rail Infrastructure) which looks at the liabilities arising from this serious nuisance plant.

There are a couple of points of interest in this first consideration by an appeal court.

First, its presence encroaching onto a neighbour’s land gives rise to a claim in nuisance even if it hasn’t done actual damage, because it interferes with the neighbour’s right of enjoyment of his land. So it is pretty clear that if you have this plant on your land and it threatens someone else’s land you must do something about it. If it comes on your land from someone else’s land, and they have failed to prevent it, you have a claim against them for the costs you incur in removing it and repairing damage.

Second, the victim of Japanese Knotweed spread does not have a claim for the long term devaluation of his land caused to his property, provided the Knotweed is removed. But he could obtain an injunction to secure its removal if the adjacent owner was reluctant. This will be the way to go for home-owners and developers alike.

This publication is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.