The £20bn cost of Japanese knotweed to UK properties
Japanese knotweed has wiped an estimated £20bn off the current value of the property market in the UK, according to Environet UK.
The Japanese knotweed removal firm estimates that up to 5% of the UK’s houses are currently affected by knotweed, directly or indirectly by neighbouring an affected property.
As a result, approximately 850,000 to 900,000 UK households are suffering an average reduction in their home’s value of around 10%, knocking almost £20 billion (£19.8 billion) off property values.
Japanese knotweed was first introduced into the UK from Japan in the 1850s as an ornamental plant, but it is now number one on the Environment Agency’s list of the UK’s most invasive plant species, described as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”.
Mortgage lenders will typically refuse loans against affected properties unless there is a professional knotweed management plan in place with an insurance-backed guarantee. Sellers are also required by law to inform potential purchasers whether it is, or has been, affected by Japanese knotweed, which can act as a deterrent even if the infestation has been treated.
Nic Seal, founder and MD of Environet, said, “Japanese knotweed is the problem that just keeps growing. For most people in the UK, their home is their biggest asset and often the ‘pot of gold’ they are relying on in retirement, but Japanese knotweed is having a serious impact on values by deterring buyers and making homes difficult to sell, even if the knotweed has been successfully treated.
“Those affected by knotweed should seek to resolve the issue as quickly as possible by appointing a professional removal firm and securing a ten-year insurance-backed guarantee for the work, which will can be passed onto a buyer and their mortgage lender. DIY attempts at treatment will usually only make things worse and can even hasten the spread of the plant.”
Homeowners worried about the threat of Japanese knotweed, which is now rife across the UK with particular hotspots in Wales, the South West, London and the South East, can protect themselves by purchasing a specialist Japanese knotweed indemnity policy through Countrywide Legal Indemnities. Starting at less than £100, the policy covers homeowners for the cost of treatment, repairs, legal costs arising from third party claims and any diminution of the property’s value, should knotweed arise.