Getting rid of Japanese knotweed infestation is often a difficult exercise that will consume your time, cause exhaustion and frustration.
If your neighbour has Japanese Knotweed on their property you need to know whether this is going to impact your property and begin a nightmare to resolve unless you have a rapport with the neighbour.
The invasive nature of this weed plant makes it a menace that leaves no stone untouched in its quest to conquer every land that it grows on. The infestation of this weed plant in neighbouring property is even worse because it means you have no control over what should happen.
Legally, there is no law that prevents one from having the weed plant on their land, however; when your neighbour has Japanese knotweed, they must bear the certain obligation to ensure the weed plant does not spread to adjacent lands/property.
Depending on the distance between the Japanese knotweed and your house, you may find that an infestation in your neighbour’s garden can have a negative effect on your property value.
To this end, the amount of money that you stand to lose from being next door to a knotweed infestation depends on the severity of the infestation and how close it is to encroaching on your land.
Based on the foregoing, if your neighbour has Japanese knotweed, here is what to do and the proper cause of action that you can follow.
If the Neighbour has Japanese Knotweed and whether to Inform them
As the first precautionary measure, it is prudent that you tell your neighbour as soon as possible regarding the presence of the weed plant on their property. This can be done orally or via a written arrangement.
By informing them of the potential danger that is imminent as a result of the presence of the weed plant, you are putting yourself in an advantageous position to claim against them if they fail to take proper steps to remedy the situation.
- Community protection notice
For persons living in England or Wales, a community protection notice can be issued to a neighbour that has the weed plant in the land that is threatening to encroach to the adjacent lands.
The notice serves the purpose of notifying a person to take reasonable measures to act on a certain problem that may end up affecting other people with regard to their property.
To get this notice from the concerned authorities, it is required that you show proof that you had relayed to your neighbour the existence of the weed plant and they failed to take reasonable action.
- Court action
There are cases where neighbours have been sued by their adjacent neighbours for letting Japanese knotweed encroach on their property.
The case of Smith v Line speaks into this issue in detail and has been used as a precedent in most legal suits involving Japanese knotweed disputes where encroachment has been occasioned by the neighbour.
In essence, if you notice the presence of the weed plant in your property and you refuse to treat it, then you can be sued by your neighbours either for compensation to enable them to treat the weed plant themselves or for the court to compel you to initiate the treatment program yourself to avoid further damage.
Another reason that will force one to consider a court action claim is that the encroachment of the weed plant in their property causes the value of the property to fall significantly hence the affected neighbour can make a court claim to ensure that the value of the property does not depreciate further since you will be forced to clear the invasive weed plant.
- Alternative means of dispute resolution
At times, it may be difficult to ascertain the origin of Japanese knotweed, especially where there are shared areas such as the garden, play areas for children, the parking or relaxation facilities as such making it difficult to blame one neighbour on the encroachment.
At times, the neighbour having the weed plant present in their property may not be in a position to treat the plant owing to their financial position thus requiring a consented effort to get rid of the weed plant.
In such a scenario, it is advised not to maintain a hard line as regards the person to take full responsibility and instead come up with alternative measures on how to collectively solve the problem.
The principle of being a ‘good neighbour’ should come into play when it is evident that one person cannot take the full burden.
- Removal DIY methods
There are various ways to get rid of the Japanese knotweed from your property. Removal DIY methods are those that you can do by yourself that are not costly in your pockets. Some of them include cutting down the weed plant, uprooting, mowing, burning and burying.
Once you have taken notice of the encroachment of the weed plant from your neighbour, apart from making them aware of the weed plant, you can also take it upon yourself to try and eradicate the weed from your side of the property.
What if the Japanese knotweed is growing on public land?
In instances where the property adjacent to yours is publicly owned and there is a potential knotweed infestation to your property, you need to engage with the public body having title to such land to treat the knotweed infestation.
If this does not happen, you are at liberty to make a formal claim through a court for compensation for any damage occasioned to you.
Public bodies are not exempted from treating the knotweed infestations in the lands that they own, they are held to an equal standard as private personnel/property owners.
Although it is not illegal to have Japanese knotweed on your property, you have a duty of care of ensuring that the weed plant does not spread to the neighbouring properties. The plants growing in your property must be kept in check and this includes the Japanese knotweed.
This means that in instances where the weed plant originates from your neighbour’s property, they are bestowed with the obligation of eliminating it once it has encroached property.
Finally, it is important to identify whether the neighbour is a private person or a public body so that you can know the right procedure to follow in demanding various remedies.
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Want to know more about what to do if a neighbour has Japanese Knotweed?
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Knotweed Removal, UK