The RICS is to produce an information paper on Japanese knotweed aimed at helping valuers and mortgage lenders consider the implications of this invasive plant when undertaking valuations of residential property in the UK.
The plant has a pretty fearsome reputation for its damaging effects when it is found near or on a property, but these fears are often based on misunderstanding. It has recently become something of a problem as some lenders have reviewed their policies and a number of loans on Japanese knotweed affected properties have subsequently been declined. This has changed the status of the plant from one which is difficult to solve to a problem which could result in property sales falling through.
Although the plant can be difficult to control, it needn't be a death sentence for a property. The RICS points out that building movement and asbestos have posed assessment problems since the mid-1970s, and these have largely been resolved and assimilated into the lending process. It doesn't see any reason why the assessment of Japanese knotweed could not follow a similar route, and is currently consulting on this in order to develop best practice guidelines.
Philip Santo of the RICS commented “While this invasive, non-native plant can be difficult to control it should be recognised that timely and persistent treatment programs can minimise its impact. A standard risk assessment framework is being proposed to help valuers to provide more informed advice to their clients and to help lenders to adopt more consistent and balanced policies."
Japanese knotweed is native to eastern Asia but has thrived in North America and Europe, and has been classified as an invasive species in several countries, and is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world’s top 100 worst invasive species. It is present in 39 out of the 50 US states as well as six provinces in Canada.
It was made illegal to spread the plant in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Just last month a couple were told their £300,000 new build home in Hertfordshire, England would have to be demolished because of this invasive plant.