Japanese knotweed, often regarded as the most invasive and destructive plant species in the UK, poses a significant threat to homes, buildings, and even mortgage approvals.
Identifying Japanese knotweed can be a challenging task, as its easily mistaken for other plants, including dogwood. If you find Japanese knotweed on your property, it's crucial to take immediate steps to control or remove it to avoid potential legal consequences should it spread to neighboring areas or natural habitats.
It's important to note that damage caused by Japanese knotweed may not be covered by your standard home insurance policy, potentially necessitating the addition of indemnity insurance to safeguard your property further.
Understanding Japanese Knotweed Indemnity Insurance
Most conventional home and building insurance policies do not cover the expenses associated with Japanese knotweed, with the exception of legal expenses coverage. For individuals purchasing a property and concerned about the risks posed by Japanese knotweed, obtaining Japanese knotweed indemnity insurance is highly recommended.
This insurance covers the costs and expenses incurred as a result of enforcement action by the relevant authority.
How Japanese Knotweed Indemnity Insurance Supports Your Property
If you are unsure of the presence of Japanese knotweed on your property, this can negatively impact potential buyers and leave them vulnerable to future costs. However, this risk can be mitigated with Japanese knotweed insurance indemnity, which provides crucial protection for the buyer and their mortgage lender. Indemnity insurance is designed to offer protection for properties not known to be affected and safeguard against potential future infestations.
Nevertheless, if you declare that there is no known Japanese knotweed on your premises, and the plant is later discovered, you could potentially be held liable or face legal action.
Coverage Provided by Japanese Knotweed Indemnity Insurance
Properties not known to be affected by Japanese knotweed can benefit from Japanese knotweed indemnity insurance, which typically covers the cost and expenses incurred as a result of enforcement action by the relevant authority.
The policy does not cover the removal of Japanese Knotweed should it breach into the garden, unless the local authority takes action under the Environmental protection Act 1990, the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Police Act 2014 and/or the Infrastructure Act 2015. The policy will then cover the costs of remedying the situation to comply with the enforcement notice.
The cover we offer would be up to a maximum policy limit of £20,000.00. The term of the policy would be 5 years from the policy date, or for a lender, the full term of any mortgage or charged completed during this period.
Is It Illegal to Have Japanese Knotweed on Your Property?
It is not illegal to have Japanese knotweed in your garden, but you must keep it under control, which can be challenging, especially after a thorough garden clearance. Even if you believe you've removed knotweed from your property, it can swiftly return from even the tiniest piece of root left in the soil. Proper disposal of contaminated soil is crucial to prevent regrowth.
The rules differ when Japanese knotweed is present outside your property boundary. If you spread knotweed into the wild, you could face fines of up to £5,000 or imprisonment for up to two years. Allowing knotweed to encroach on a neighboring property could result in a community protection notice being issued.
Damage Caused by Japanese Knotweed
Japanese knotweed can infiltrate your garden, damage property and buildings, and even lead to subsidence. It can exploit the tiniest cracks in concrete and brick, resulting in costly damage. Structures such as garden walls, garages, outbuildings, drains, and conservatories are particularly vulnerable.
In 2022, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) revised its guidance regarding Japanese knotweed, eliminating the problematic seven-meter radius rule that had posed challenges for home buyers, sellers, and mortgage lenders.
However, it's important to understand that this new guidance does not diminish the risks associated with Japanese knotweed. Rather, it focuses on the genuine issues caused by this invasive plant. Japanese knotweed can grow up to 10cm per day during the growing season, and if left unchecked, it can penetrate cracks in concrete, hard surfaces, and foundations, disrupting the use and enjoyment of your garden.
Will Home Insurance Cover Japanese Knotweed Damage?
It is highly improbable that your standard home insurance policy will cover damage caused by Japanese knotweed, particularly if the damage has occurred gradually over time. It is advisable not to overlook the presence of knotweed on your property, as your insurance provider may argue that any damage resulting from knotweed is due to your negligence and failure to take appropriate action.
Action to Take If You Discover Japanese Knotweed
The safest and most effective course of action when encountering Japanese knotweed on your property is to engage a Japanese knotweed removal specialist. They can either eradicate the plant from your property or formulate a treatment and control plan. Attempting to address the issue yourself can take months or even years, incurring substantial costs. The persistent growth of Japanese knotweed above and below the ground increases the risk of regrowth, potentially causing further damage.