Japanese knotweed is a type of weed that spreads rapidly and is very difficult to get rid of without professional help.
It is not illegal to have it on your property. However, by law, you must take action to remove it if there is a risk of it spreading onto someone else’s property, or if you intend to sell your home.
Japanese knotweed can have a significant impact on the house-buying process and reduce the value of a home. 78% of buyers would not purchase a property with Japanese knotweed.
Failure to report/remove it is an offence and could result in a fine of up to £5000, or a prison sentence of up to 2 years.
In addition, a buyer has the right to sue a seller if they fail to inform them of Japanese knotweed on the property- even if they were not aware.
Sadly, home insurance will usually not cover the cost of removal. It is best to seek professional help, as DIY removal could make it spread further.
Nip it in the bud
The first way you can identify Japanese knotweed is to check areas where it commonly grows. Typically, they grow in man-made habitats, such as:
railway embankments and cuttings,
spoil tips made up of waste material from mining or quarrying,
near rivers and streams.
Use pictures from Google/trusted websites to help you identify what it looks like. It is recommended that you look at photos at different stages of its growth (e.g. when it is sprouting).
Please do not try to remove it yourself, unless you are a trained professional. GOV.UK has some advice on how to remove it if you are qualified to do so.
For more information, or if you are unsure, contact the Environment Agency on 0800 807 060.