Japanese Knotweed Mortgage Problems

Japanese Knotweed was originally introduced into the UK from Japan, as an ornamental plant in the 19th Century. It quickly escaped and can now be found growing throughout the UK in gardens, public spaces, waterways, development sites and railways. 

Because of the potential Knotweed damage, it can be hard to obtain a mortgage if a property is affected by the invasive plant Japanese Knotweed UK.

 

Buying a new home is a stressful process and with all of the hoops to initially jump through to get a mortgage in principle, you then move forward and find your perfect new house. 

Some buyers go on to commission an RICS homebuyer survey or building survey and hopefully your RICS surveyor will look in the garden for evidence of the invasive plant Japanese Knotweed. 

If positively identified, the surveyor will recommend that you instruct a professional company such as TP Knotweed Solutions, to carry out a Japanese Knotweed Survey, to assess the scale of the Japanese Knotweed problems and prepare a specialist report. 

At this stage most of our customers are typing ‘Japanese Knotweed Removal’ into Google and seeing the horror stories and media coverage on the UK’s most invasive plant along with the Japanese Knotweed damage photos. 

At TP Knotweed Solutions we are dedicated to providing our customers with the facts and guaranteed Japanese Knotweed solutions, which is why we have grown to become the trusted Japanese Knotweed UK experts over the past 10 years. With over 5,000 properties currently being treated by TP Knotweed Solutions nationwide, our specialist team have seen it all; with no Japanese Knotweed infestation being too difficult for us to tackle. 

In this article we will give further advice on common concerns such as: buying a house with Japanese Knotweed, Japanese Knotweed mortgage issues, the RICS Japanese Knotweed risk categories, Japanese Knotweed damage, arranging a Japanese Knotweed survey and the simple Japanese Knotweed solutions that can be put in place to enable you to buy and sell property affected by Japanese Knotweed.

 

 

The problem with Japanese Knotweed and how it affects the chance to get a mortgage. 

Once Japanese Knotweed has been identified within the garden of the property or surrounding neighbouring gardens, most mortgage lenders will initially refuse to lend, and the value of the property can be significantly affected within the valuation report. 

A Japanese Knotweed mortgage can be hard to obtain because of the disruption and Knotweed damage that can be caused over time. This invasive plant can push through tarmac and paving, damage and crack drainage systems, exploit weaknesses in concrete surfaces, damage boundary brick walls and can significantly impact what can be done within a garden in relation to landscaping. 

One of the Japanese Knotweed problems is that this plant is dormant over the winter months meaning the underground Japanese Knotweed rhizome network is alive, storing nutrients, but the surface growth is dead making Japanese Knotweed identification very hard in the winter. This means that homebuyers need to be vigilant and ensure they have carried out a Japanese Knotweed survey of the property they are looking to purchase. 

Our surveyors regularly find that sellers will either not declare that they have Japanese Knotweed on the Law Society TA6 Property Information Form or will in fact cut down the canes and try to conceal the Japanese Knotweed problem. It is not until the Spring that purchasers find out they have a Japanese Knotweed issue. 

TP Knotweed Solutions also see issues where new property purchasers excavate and landscape areas of the garden or start to build an extension and find small red shoots popping up in various places, where dormant Japanese Knotweed has been disturbed unknowingly and regrows. 

 

What kind of mortgage can I get if a property has Japanese knotweed? 

Japanese Knotweed and mortgages are a complicated subject and one that TP Knotweed Solutions are well placed to answer for you. 

Should Japanese Knotweed be identified within the gardens of a residential property, most mortgage lenders within the UK will initially refuse to lend. 

 Each lender has their own lending criteria and policies, however they will also be guided by the RICS information paper ‘Japanese Knotweed and Residential Property’, which is a specialist document that aims to help residential surveyors and property professionals consider the implications of Japanese Knotweed on or close to a dwelling, when undertaking surveys and valuations of residential property within the UK.  

Over the past decade, significant advances have been made when it comes to Japanese Knotweed treatment and remediation, with most lenders now understanding that Japanese Knotweed is simply another household problem that can be solved by specialist companies, just like many other common building defects. 

For any survey that is carried out at a property (Valuation, HomeBuyers, RICS Condition, Building Survey or Japanese Knotweed Survey), in the event that Japanese Knotweed is identified, the surveyor will assess the Japanese Knotweed against the Japanese Knotweed Risk Categories table within the RICS information paper. This will place the Japanese Knotweed infestation in to one of the four categories depending on factors such as distance to the habitable spaces and damage visible. 

It is important to note that most lenders will reverse their initial decision and will issue a Japanese Knotweed mortgage as long as there is an accredited 5-year invasive plant management plan in place as well as a 10-year insurance backed guarantee. This must be carried out by an experienced Japanese Knotweed specialist, who is a member of the Property Care Association. 

TP Knotweed Solutions have been treating properties affected by Japanese Knotweed for over a decade and are recognised as one of the UK’s leading Japanese Knotweed specialists by lenders and property professionals nationwide.

 

Current Japanese knotweed lending policies at banks and building societies 

The table below details some of the current lending policies and criteria by some of the UK’s main mortgage lenders, in relation to Japanese Knotweed.

Properties with Japanese Knotweed growing within the vicinity are considered with caution and subject to the following terms: If present within 7 metres of the property boundary, the applicant will be required to obtain a specialist report in respect of eradicating the plant, including an insurance backed 5 year warranty against re-appearance of the plant, and if necessary, repairs to the property and services will be required for the valuer to make a full assessment of the property’s suitability. If more than 7 metres from the property boundary, written confirmation is required from the applicant confirming that they are aware of the presence of this invasive plant and the adverse affects it could have on the property should it spread closer. It is recommended the applicant seeks their own independent professional advice regarding the risk this plant might impose.

If Japanese Knotweed has been identified within 7 metres of a property’s garden fence, the valuer will follow the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ guidelines to assess the risk. We can only lend if we are provided with a treatment schedule and a completion certificate confirming that the weed has been eradicated that there is a guarantee of at least 10 years in place.

RICS Category 2 & 3 – Specialist report required. Treatment plan and guarantees as indicated by the specialist. Suitability subject to valuer comment. Valuation report – zero market value, with afterworks figure pending reports. RICS Category 4 – Unsuitable for RBSG regardless of specialist report, treatment plan and guarantees.

Less than 7 metres from the property would be automatically declined for a mortgage. Above 7 metres from the property – Specialist report would need to be undertaken by a Property Care Association (PCA) registered or similarly qualified firm and reviewed for a decision to be made.

To be reported in the valuation report together with a valuation of the property. Further investigation is required. This is to be undertaken by a Property Care Association (PCA) registered or similarly qualified firm. All recommended remedial works must be covered by an insurance-backed guarantee. The guarantee must be for a minimum of 10 years, be property specific and transferable to subsequent owners and any Mortgagee in Possession. An insurance-backed treatment plan must be confirmed prior to completion. It is not necessary for the recommended remedial works to be completed prior to the release of any mortgage monies.

Guidelines are very strict in lending against a property. However, will consider lending against a property pending report from specialist company showing the extent of the Japanese knotweed along with a quote and a guarantee on site. This will have to go over to their underwriters for a final decision.

Will not lend against a property that has Japanese knotweed or that has previously had Japanese knotweed remediation such as excavation.

 

Should I buy a house with Japanese Knotweed?

Buying a house with Japanese Knotweed is perfectly fine providing that:

  1. There is evidence of Japanese Knotweed treatment plan with licensed removal experts
  2. There is a 10-year insurance backed guarantee from your professional treatment providers

Buying a property can be a stressful experience, and your dream move can quickly become a nightmare if Japanese Knotweed is discovered on the property. Removing Japanese Knotweed can be an expensive and lengthy process, and if you’re buying a property affected by it, the issue could last years and seriously affect the value of your property. This is why mortgage lenders have mixed approach to how it handles cases of Japanese Knotweed, as it can end up being very costly. It’s important to find out your mortgage lenders’ stance on Japanese Knotweed, as with a reliable treatment programme in place and a 10 year guarantee, there is no reason why Japanese Knotweed on the property should prevent your house sale or purchase.

The problem with Japanese Knotweed and how it affects the chance to get a mortgage. 

Once Japanese Knotweed has been identified within the garden of the property or surrounding neighbouring gardens, most mortgage lenders will initially refuse to lend, and the value of the property can be significantly affected within the valuation report. 

A Japanese Knotweed mortgage can be hard to obtain because of the disruption and Knotweed damage that can be caused over time. This invasive plant can push through tarmac and paving, damage and crack drainage systems, exploit weaknesses in concrete surfaces, damage boundary brick walls and can significantly impact what can be done within a garden in relation to landscaping. 

One of the Japanese Knotweed problems is that this plant is dormant over the winter months meaning the underground Japanese Knotweed rhizome network is alive, storing nutrients, but the surface growth is dead making Japanese Knotweed identification very hard in the winter. This means that homebuyers need to be vigilant and ensure they have carried out a Japanese Knotweed survey of the property they are looking to purchase. 

Our surveyors regularly find that sellers will either not declare that they have Japanese Knotweed on the Law Society TA6 Property Information Form or will in fact cut down the canes and try to conceal the Japanese Knotweed problem. It is not until the Spring that purchasers find out they have a Japanese Knotweed issue. 

TP Knotweed Solutions also see issues where new property purchasers excavate and landscape areas of the garden or start to build an extension and find small red shoots popping up in various places, where dormant Japanese Knotweed has been disturbed unknowingly and regrows. 

Can I get a mortgage on a property with Japanese Knotweed?

You should be able to obtain a mortgage providing you know that:

  1. The presence of Knotweed could affect your house price and valuation of your property
  2. Lenders will be cautious to lend if Japanese Knotweed is found on your property or neighbouring property
  3. You will have to meet certain criteria depending on your lender and specific case

Who is responsible for clearing Japanese Knotweed?

If you are buying a house with Knotweed, you should ensure a professional company with an in-depth management plan and guarantee is in place. By allowing the seller to manage the Japanese Knotweed problem, it could lead to a quick, inadequate solution that may not satisfy lender requirements, or the problem returning.

If you are buying and Knotweed is found, it’s advised to seek professional guidance.

Do you have to declare Japanese Knotweed on the TA6 Property Information Form or report within surveys & valuations?

The Law Society TA6 Property Information Form was updated in February 2020 to put more pressure on sellers to declare whether or not their property is affected by Japanese Knotweed.  If it is not known, sellers should take necessary steps to find out. This may involve instructing a specialist company such as ourselves to carry out a survey at the property. 

Mortgage surveyors & valuers are trained to look out for signs of Japanese Knotweed so if you are not honest, or try to conceal this, it will most likely lead to your mortgage being declined after valuation, until a treatment programme has been implemented. We are also seeing cases where sellers are being pursued by solicitors for misrepresentation.  

It’s important to have a thorough survey conducted to ensure the presence of Knotweed is determined and prevent future Japanese Knotweed mortgage problems. Detecting it early on can help you to ensure there are measures put in place such as a treatment programme and insurance backed guarantees, so you can proceed with your house sale or purchase. 

 

 

Need expert removal with a 10-Year Guarantee?

If your property is being purchased or sold, we offer our 10-Year Insurance Backed Guarantee. As soon as our team have successfully removed all traces of Japanese Knotweed from your land we can provide you with this guarantee.

We can help you get rid of Japanese Knotweed from your property permanently.