RESEARCH has found that a third of people in the UK would buy a property with a Japanese Knotweed infestation, despite 'horror stories'.

Reading was recently named as the second worst location for Japanese Knotweed infestation in the south east, but this didn't deter Simon Harper, who recently brought a semi detached house in Waltham St Lawrence despite knowing it had a serious infestation of the plant.

READ MORE: Reading and Bracknell 'hotspots' for Japanese knotweed

Simon instructed Environet to carry out a survey before he bought the property, then used it to negotiate a discount on the price to reflect the cost of treating it.

Once he had that treatment plan in place and the seller agreed to a lower price, he went ahead with the purchase and has just had the knotweed excavated and a root barrier put in place to prevent it from encroaching from next door.

Reading Chronicle:

About Japanese Knotweed

  • Japanese knotweed arrived in the UK in the 1840s, in box number 34 of 40 Chinese and Japanese plant species delivered to Kew Gardens
  • Japanese knotweed can grow up to 10cm per day from May – July
  • Approximately £166m is spent each year on treating the plant in the UK
  • The Government estimates it would cost £1.5bn to clear the UK of knotweed
  • Japanese knotweed can lie dormant under the ground for up to 20 years before suddenly re-growing
  • Property owners who fail to stop the spread of knotweed on their land can face fines and even a jail sentence under ASBO legislation
  • Japanese knotweed is not a problem in Japan, where native bugs feed on the plant and keep it under control. There are ongoing experiments to introduce bugs to the UK to help control the spread of knotweed.

A survey with YouGov showed that a third of people in the UK buy a property with knotweed, suggesting people are becoming more pragmatic in their approach.

As awareness grows of the UK’s most invasive plant (78 per cent of British adults are now aware of Japanese knotweed compared to 76 per cent in 2018 and 75 per cent in 2017), and the treatments and guarantees available to deal with it, homebuyers have greater peace of mind that it’s a problem that can be solved.

As long as there is a professional treatment plan in place with an insurance-backed guarantee, they may not need to walk away from their dream home.

Of those who said they would proceed with the purchase at a reduced price, the majority (26 per cent) would expect a discount of between 6 – 10 per cent, while 15 per cent would expect to knock off between just 1 – 5 per cent.

A further 15 per cent would seek to reduce the price by more than a quarter.

In Environet’s experience, a 10 per cent reduction in the purchase price is typical in cases where property has been affected by Japanese knotweed, dropping to around 2-5 per cent if it has been professionally treated.

Nic Seal, Founder and MD of Environet said: “With an estimated 5 per cent of all UK properties now affected by Japanese knotweed, either directly or indirectly, it’s encouraging to see homebuyers becoming increasingly rational in their approach.

"If left untreated, Japanese knotweed can cause considerable damage to a property which is why buyers and lenders are right to insist that there is a professional treatment plan in place before they agree to proceed.

"Due to the stigma around Japanese knotweed the property value will almost certainly be impacted, but all that’s required is a sensible renegotiation of the price.

"People are realising it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker."

Chartered Surveyor Paul Raine, director of Expert Surveyors Ltd, added: “The key to selling a property affected by knotweed is a Japanese Knotweed Management Plan from a reputable specialist.

"Always be honest if the property you’re selling is or has been affected, or it could come back to bite you in the form of litigation from your buyer further down the line.”