Body plans knotweed risk guidance

Japanese knotweedThe invasive Japanese knotweed plant, feared for its potentially devastating effects on homes and gardens, is not necessarily a "life sentence" for a property, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has said.
The professional body is proposing risk assessment guidelines on how the weed's presence can be taken into account when assessing the value of a house, which could limit the number of sales falling through.

The dense foreign invader commands a reputation as the scourge of gardens, frequently appearing on TV property shows for its ability to ruin landscapes by forcing its way through cracks and into drains, causing thousands of pounds of damage in its quest for water.

There have even been "rare and exceptional" reports of the weed causing more dramatic harm by ripping through foundations and pushing its way up inside the home.

But RICS, which has opened a consultation on the issue, said concerns are often based on "misunderstanding and overreactions".

Sales have fallen through due to lenders turning down loans on properties blighted by Japanese knotweed, the professional body said.

But it added that while the plant is hard to control, with the right treatment "it needn't be a life sentence for a property".

The organisation suggested that the problem can be assimilated into the lending process in the same way that challenges such as building movement and asbestos have been dealt with.

RICS spokesman Philip Santo said: "When assessing market value, valuers must take account of a variety of factors and the presence and effects of Japanese knotweed is just one of the many considerations that may affect value.

"While this invasive, non-native plant can be difficult to control it should be recognised that timely and persistent treatment programmes can minimalise its impact."

© 2011 Press Association
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