There has been some news about this in the past but I have now experienced the affects of Japanese Knotweed on a mortgage application first hand so I can now add to the melting pot.
My client had found a house they wanted, we put their application in, the mortgage lender contracted a surveyor to value the property and this came back fine so the mortgage was offered.
The client had had an independent survey carried out and in total honesty mentioned to their solicitor that there was ‘nothing on the survey apart form the mention of some Japanese Knotweed’.
Now the solicitor, doing his job, notified the mortgage lender who immediately arranged another survey. This time, the lender’s surveyor found the Knotweed, reported back and the property was declined.
The clients still have a mortgage offer but they now need to find another property before November. It’s entirely possible but once you set your heart on a house it’s a real pain in the neck, especially if you’d already packed!
The lender in question was Abbey and I have confirmed that Santander will not lend on a property where Japanese Knotweed is known about even if it is subsequently removed and an Environment Agency Certificate is available. They just don’t want to know.
Almost all other lenders are now following suit but some will still lend if the Knotweed has been removed by a reputable firm and an Environment Agency Certificate has been issued. (Woolwich don’t have a policy on Knotweed yet but their service standards are shocking and it’s only a matter of time before they catch up…).
The removal process can require a 5m crater to be dug up around the roots or a long term course of specialist weedkiller.
Although if you search online some sites claim Roundup works!
The issue with Japanese Knotweed is that it grows very quickly and the roots spread. Due to the rapid growth the roots expand and can crack foundations and cause major structural damage to property. Plus it is apparently very hard to eradicate.
A 10 acre site in London which is to be used for the 2012 Olympics is being cleared of Japanese Knotweed at a cost of £70 million but £220 million has been set aside just in case!