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I have previously covered the nightmare of Japanese knotweed is and how expensive it can become if you ignore it.
In addition to the civil court cases that have been reported, where one neighbour sues another, there has recently been what is believed to be the first prosecution under section 48 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 relating to Japanese knotweed.
A residential property company, MB Estate Ltd, was successfully prosecuted by Bristol City Council and fined £18,000 plus costs by the magistrates court.
The company was already in breach of a community protection order issued against it in 2017 requiring it to remedy a knotweed problem on land it owned. The knotweed was out of control and causing an issue for seven adjoining properties. The council took up the case under the powers the Act gives it to bring such prosecutions.
Fines under s48 of the Act are unlimited for corporate bodies, but are limited to £2,500 for individuals.
In this case the land was owned by a company, so the higher fine was possible.
The court also ordered the company to remedy the problem. However, because the company did not attend the hearing, what happens next remains to be seen.
Japanese knotweed is an invasive, aggressive plant which can damage property, drains, drives and roads.
It dies back to ground level in winter but then bamboo-like stems emerge and can reach more than two metres.
Eradication requires specialist intervention and cannot be done successfully without such help.
If you are selling a house you have to say in the Property Information Form whether or not you have Japanese knotweed – therefore you need to be aware if this is an issue for you.
If you do you have knotweed, you must have a management plan.
It may be possible to obtain a knotweed indemnity policy which could cover the costs of eradication and legal costs in defending any claim brought against you.
For further advice, speak to your solicitor.
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