Japanese Knotweed

I’m not sure why, but most surveyors’ reports these days refer to the problem of Japanese Knotweed.

I’m not suggesting it is not a problem – far from it – see this article for why: Japanese Knotweed-2012-06

My bafflement is as to why now, when it has been around (and a problem) for so long. Whatever the reason, it is being mentioned in survey reports more often – and even being raised in enquiries by buyers’ conveyancers (including me).  I suspect that surveyors have been advised to warn clients of the problem, which is why they mention it in their reports. However, I have not yet seen a single report that states there is Japanese Knotweed on a property: they all say words to the effect of, “Check whether there is Japanese Knotweed at the property” (apparently, surveyors are not qualified to identify Japanese Knotweed, so their professional indemnity insurance will not cover them if they fail to identify).

It does become a bit laughable when some surveyors say, “Get your conveyancer to check whether there is Japanese Knotweed at the property”, as though conveyancers are better qualified to identify it, even in the vanishingly rare cases that they view the property rather than just the paperwork.

It is even funnier to see, as in one case recently, “Your solicitor’s searches will reveal whether Japanese Knotweed is present” – errr, no they won’t! There does seem to be a common misconception amongst surveyors as to what searches will reveal – they only reveal what is known to the relevant authority; not, for instance, whether a homeowner has demolished chimney breadts without getting Building Regulations consent, and certainly not what vegetation is in the garden.

Of course, the surveyors are only protecting their backs. So the buyer’s conveyancer does the same (as I do), by asking an additional enquiry: “Is the Seller aware of any Japanese Knotweed at the property”. Correctly or otherwise (knowingly or otherwise), the seller answers “No”. The fact that there may be Japanese Knotweed at the property is thereby neatly skipped by – nobody is any the wiser, and it’s all a bit of a waste of time and effort, but we have all done our jobs, haven’t we?


EDIT: More on the subject here in the Guardian



  1. Treat Japanese knotweed as soon as it becomes apparent – do not allow it to become established. Treatment ofJapanse knotweed on land banks is highly recommended as they will prove easier to either sell or develop than if the knotweed has been allowed to thrive for several years.

  2. Piracetam

    Surveyors: To give surveyors a clear guideline on risk assessment regarding Japanese knotweed, a working party has now been set up, chaired by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and involving the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) and contractors, including Musketeers Group. ‘RICS recognise the problem and are working with members of the treatment industry to come up with an agreed way forward. CML and The Building Societies Association (BSA) are aware of this and support this initiative,’ says Stephen Morgan, spokesperson for RICS.

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