Labradors ‘Mick and Mack’ trained to sniff out Japanese Knotweed
Homebuyers concerned that Japanese Knotweed may be lurking in the grounds of a property they want to buy can call in the help of specially trained dogs to sniff out the destructive plant.
The two one-year old Fox Red Labrador Retrievers, Mick and Mack (pictured) have been trained to cover a garden or development site in minutes and if knotweed is detected they freeze on the spot.
Japanese knotweed removal firm Environet UK partnered with dog training experts RFA security, who train dogs to sniff out drugs and bombs, to teach Mick and Mack to hunt down the weed.
The plant can cause damage to buildings and foundations and if found, can cause a property to a plummet in value and deter some banks from offering mortgages.
The dogs can detect the plant even if it is below the ground which Environet’s founder and managing director Nic Seal said is essential because some sellers try and hide knotweed by concealing it with paving slabs.
“Japanese knotweed is a growing problem for homeowners in the UK and misrepresentation cases are on the rise, where sellers have answered dishonestly about whether their property is affected or deliberately concealed the plant,” said Seal. “It’s not uncommon for knotweed to be cut back prior to a survey and I’ve even seen cases where the seller has placed a membrane horizontally in the ground over a knotweed infestation and laid a lawn or pathway over the top.”
Japanese knotweed was introduced to the UK from Japan in the 1840s and now lives in parks and gardens, along waterways and railways. It can grow at a rate of 10cm per day to reach up to three metres in height by late summer.
Sellers are required by law to declare if their property is affected by Japanese knotweed on the Law Society’s TA6 form, completed as a standard part of the conveyancing process.
But if they are uncertain they can declare that presence of the weed is not known which puts the responsibility of finding the plant on the buyer.