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Knot to be forgotten!

Knot to be forgotten!

Knot to be forgotten!

In the Central London County Court, a purchaser has successfully sued a seller for failing to disclose that the Property was affected by Japanese Knotweed.

Initially introduced for decorative purposes, Knotweed is now classified as an invasive species as a result of the damage it causes to buildings and structures by infiltrating foundations, pavements and tarmac.  As it grows, Japanese Knotweed exploits weak areas in structures which leads to wall cracks and damage to buildings. The costs of removing Knotweed and repairing the damage caused can be eye watering so it is crucial that prospective purchasers are well informed about its presence when considering buying a property.

The Law Society’s Standard Property Information Form (TA6) requires sellers to disclose whether their property is affected by Japanese Knotweed. Not only this but the seller is also responsible for checking their garden for Knotweed.

The facts of the case were that Mr D (Purchaser) had bought a 3 bedroom house in London from Mr H (Seller).  Mr H had stated during the negotiating process that the property was not affected by Japanese Knotweed. The sale completed but to the shock of Mr D, Japanese knotweed was discovered in the garden growing next to the shed. Mr D then sued Mr H for misrepresentation.

Mr H argued that he “reasonably believed” that the Property was not affected by Japanese Knotweed. He argued that the Knotweed was hidden behind the shed and various other large plants and so was unable to see it. The Judge dismissed Mr H’s argument as evidence was heard that suggested that the knotweed in the garden had previously been treated with weed killer…

During the trial, the Judge repeated that it was the responsibility of the seller to accurately disclose all items and to make the necessary investigations. Simply “not knowing” was not an acceptable defence.

The judge awarded £32,000 in damages to Mr D.

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