Spring is now beginning to enter full bloom, with temperatures reaching a balmy seventeen degrees in some parts of the UK this week!
This is an extremely popular season for homebuyers and sellers alike, with many looking to ‘spring clean’ in order to make their property as inviting as possible for new suiters.
As an investor, it is likely you will be no different. Whether updating your property to try and attract new tenants, or simply giving it a makeover ahead of the summer, you are sure to be busy.
However, with the weather getting warmer, experts are warning homeowners to be aware of a highly troublesome plant, that could cause serious issues.
Ryan Weston, of Just Landlords Insurance Services, looks at how the plant, Japanese Knotweed, can be identified and how best to eradicate the risk of it spreading.
What is Japanese Knotweed?
‘Japanese Knotweed, otherwise known as Fallopia Japonica, is a plant that is dormant during the winter months. Come spring, the plant begins to sprout and by summer, it is not uncommon for Japanese Knotweed to grow by a foot per week!
The plant is not unlike bamboo and can grow in excess of over seven feet high.
Should Japanese Knotweed be left untreated, it can cause serious problems in both buying and selling property. For landlords, it could be the difference between attracting tenants or suffering void periods.
In fact, many lenders will not even consider giving mortgages, buy-to-let or otherwise, on homes where the plant is present, given its potential for destruction. Roots from Japanese Knotweed can cause major damage to property foundations, walls and drainage systems.
How can you spot it?
Japanese Knotweed is easily recognisable by its distinctive lime-green stem, with red and purple speckles. The plant also has reddish-pink buds, with leaves shaped like hearts. Its sprouts have a tinge of red that ultimately turn lime green.
During summer months, Japanese Knotweed is known to produce little clusters of cream-coloured flowers, with shoots sprouting in numerous locations.
What is the best method of removal?
Despite the issues surrounding Japanese Knotweed, it is not illegal to grow the plant in the UK. However, it must be kept under very strict control and must not be allowed to spread into neighbouring gardens.
Should the plant be deemed to be causing a detrimental effect of a persistent or continuing nature on the quality of life of those in the locality, then a council officer can request for it to be removed as soon as possible.
Often, Japanese Knotweed can be dealt with by property owners themselves. Using a glyphosate-based weed killer is a good option. The Royal Horticultural Society offers more useful information on removing the plant on its website.
Once the plant has been brought under control, the knotweed must be disposed of on a registered landfill site. This is because it is classed as controlled waste under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
While the plant can be removed manually, a number of mortgage lenders insist in calling in the professionals before even contemplating releasing funds. Loan providers will cut hopes of investors buying a property should they see Japanese Knotweed is present on a surveyors report.
Before an offer of a mortgage is made, experts will be permitted to provide proof that the plant has been removed and will not return.
Japanese Knotweed is a plant that will stick around for the long-term and as such, unnerves mortgage lenders. As a result, it is vitally important for homeowners to stamp out the issue as soon as it arises.
For further advice, property owners and investors alike can contact a reputable trade association such as the British Association of Professional Landscape Industries. Associations such as these will be able to point you in the right direction of local contractors who can best tackle the troublesome plant.’