Japanese Knotweed is an invasive knotweed plant and can grow in most soils in the UK. The roots of Japanese Knotweed can grow 1m deep and can damage the brickwork and foundations of buildings. B P Collins property team advises what you can do if you’re looking to sell a property which has knotweed.

The case of Downing v Henderson

The recent case of Downing v Henderson (2023) illustrates how important it is to disclose the presence of Japanese knotweed if you know that it is present at the property you are selling.  In this case Mr. Downing purchased a property from Mr Henderson for £700,000.00. On the property information form (TA6), which the seller must complete, there is a question which states: ‘Is the property affected by Japanese Knotweed?’. Mr. Henderson responded with ‘no’. Once Mr Downing had moved into the property, he became aware of Japanese Knotweed in the garden. Mr Downing then sued Mr Henderson for misrepresentation. During the court proceedings, Mr Henderson claimed that he had not been aware of the issue. However, the court heard that there was evidence that the knotweed had been treated in the past. As a result of this, Mr. Henderson was ordered to pay damages plus a legal bill of £200,000.

What can we learn from this case?

When selling a property, this case confirms that you should only answer ‘no’ to the question of whether the property is affected by Japanese Knotweed if you are absolutely sure that this is the case. If there is any doubt as to whether the invasive plant may be present, the answer should be ‘not known’ as the courts will not have sympathy if you mis-lead the buyer.

Additionally, if you are purchasing a property, it would be prudent to carry out a thorough investigation to determine whether or not Japanese knotweed is present at the property to prevent any nasty surprises once you move in.  

For further advice and information, please contact B P Collins property team on 01753 889995 or email enquiries@bpcollins.co.uk

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