The housing market is currently flourishing with easier restrictions being lifted around Covid and many people will be going through the process of conveyancing, which can be prolonged at times.
Completing a property information form TA6 (Seller’s Property Information Form – prepared by the Law Society), which is a general questionnaire for sellers, is one step in this process.
The reason for issuing the updated TA6 is to respond to the House of Commons Select Committee on Japanese knotweed.
What is the TA6 form?
The Law Society’s TA6 Property Information Form is a document that you have to complete when selling a property. The seller fills out the TA6 form to give the buyer detailed information about the property they are about to purchase.
The TA6 form includes questions on everything from insurance to parking arrangements. For now, though, we’re mainly interested in the ‘Environmental matters’ section of the form – specifically the question about Japanese knotweed.
Specifics around Japanese knotweed
The TA6 form’s question on Japanese knotweed is as follows:
Is the property affected by Japanese knotweed?
When filling out the TA6 form, sellers must tick one of three answers:
- Not known
This may seem straightforward enough, but thanks to a recent change, this apparently simple question has become a real issue.
What does it mean for the seller?
The vendor must disclose information on Japanese knotweed, flooding, parking, and planning consents on the TA6 Form.
The seller must disclose whether a property is afflicted by Japanese knotweed in the TA6 section dealing with Japanese knotweed. If the response is affirmative, a Japanese knotweed survey will almost certainly be required.
If Japanese knotweed is found, a Japanese knotweed management plan, which includes annual monitoring and treatment of any Japanese knotweed plants, may be necessary.
It’s impossible for a seller to be totally certain – beyond a reasonable doubt – that there are no rhizomes within 3 metres of their home.
Most likely not. Most sellers would probably merely tick ‘Not known’ in response to the knotweed question if they read the new TA6 form rules, which means purchasers will have to be extra cautious.
What does it mean for the buyer?
If you’re thinking about buying a house and the owner has checked the ‘Not known’ box on the TA6 form, you should ask if you can conduct your own Japanese knotweed survey.
You can engage a Japanese knotweed specialist to come to your potential new house with the seller’s permission and undertake checks to see whether there are any signs of this invasive plant species on the property.
If Japanese knotweed is discovered, your contractor will be able to suggest a knotweed management strategy to keep it under control.
A Japanese knotweed removal programme may be required to excavate and remove the impacted ground and demolished structures if Japanese knotweed is found in an area approved for building operations.
The Law Society has responded to rapid technological advancements as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak by piloting plans to make important information available at a much earlier stage in the conveyancing process (follow this link to read more).
With four areas covered by this update, the one that concerns us most is in regard to Japanese knotweed and its benefit to all parties in being transparent and open about Japanese knotweed being on your property.
Until now, critical information such as the presence of Japanese knotweed had to be gathered after an offer had been made and a solicitor had been hired. The Law Society, on the other hand, is aiming to identify critical early marketing questions that can be answered up front in a transaction, dubbed TA6 Part 1.
This is an interesting move, and it may be more effective for sellers to have Japanese knotweed studies done at their homes earlier in the process rather than waiting until the last minute to respond to requests for extra information from the mortgage lender or the buyer.
Want to know more about property information Form TA6?
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