We have experienced situations where property exchanges have been hindered by prolonged delays, and, on occasion, prospective buyers withdrawing their offers because a surveyor or estate agent identified a Japanese Knotweed incorrectly.
Some professionals will be able to identify Japanese knotweed right away, while others have no real understanding of its particular characteristics. In winter, Japanese Knotweed can be difficult to spot, especially if the dead canes from the previous season’s growth have been cut or the infestation is not yet well established. Having liaised with numerous surveyors and estate agents over the years, it is apparent that the UK lenders are adopting a ‘no-risk’ approach, just like the Surveyors and Estate Agents. Understandably, to avoid the prospect of future litigation, on occasions where there is uncertainty that Japanese Knotweed does or does not exist on a property, the professionals involved in the process, consider it is far more prudent in the long-term to stipulate it ‘may exist’ as opposed to omitting any declaration of the plant on a Homebuyers Survey Report. By taking this course of action, the surveyor/organisation prevents legal action, which results in the burden of responsibility being passed on to another, usually a company/contractor with experience dealing with Japanese Knotweed.
Types Of Report
We can conduct a site visit, solely to confirm or deny that a particular plant is Knotweed and depending on where it is located, there is usually no charge involved. This can be achieved by a video call or photographs. Verbal confirmation in the presence of the client or prospective buyer is often sufficient, although if we are initiated by the mortgage lender, we can provide an official confirmation in writing that is accompanied by a detailed estimate of potential remedial work.
Although we will document our findings as accurately as possible, under no circumstances will we be able to confirm for certain whether Knotweed material exists or not on a particular site. Knotweed can be easily concealed by cutting down, excavating, burning, or covering over, especially during the dormant season when there may be no visual indication. Our assessment will only represent what we have seen since it is impossible to see what lies beneath the surface. Rest assured, we will be thorough, though.
In general, the purpose of the SAR report is to provide clear guidance to a mortgage lender or purchaser regarding the level of risk involved due to the presence of Knotweed on or near the property. We will provide an overview of treatment options and map out locations or special features in order to determine whether Knotweed has damaged or has the potential to damage permanent structures on the property. The content of the SAR will normally be reviewed by the mortgage lender, in order to determine if there is or is not a significant risk in lending in line with their own individual procedures
A JKMP is essentially a detailed document detailing what the contractor must do to provide appropriate treatment methods. The plan will include an evaluation of control options, a detailed assessment of the risks relating to any control action, and advice on biosecurity. The JKMP will be updated every year after treatment & evaluation.
We provide JKMPs for residential properties, plots intended for housing development, and large-scale development projects. A JKMP that pertains to a development site will contain far more detailed information than in the case of a residential property. In general, a JKMP is usually required by the mortgage lender before funds are provided for the purchase of a property. All our JKMP’s include a 10-year Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG). The JKMP “stays” with the property, which means that whenever there is any future transfer of ownership, the JKMP goes with the new owner, no matter how many times the property trades hands.
All of our JKMPs are accompanied by an independently compiled 10-year IBG. In other words, the IBG gives you, the client, assurance that should SWKR cease trading, the IBG will initiate a new contract with an accredited contractor to complete the remaining remedial work at no additional cost. Furthermore, should the Japanese Knotweed resurface from the original infestation site within 10-years of SWKR issuing the Completion Certificate (see below) to the property owner, we shall return to complete the remedial work, or if we are no longer trading, another accredited contractor will be paid to complete the work.
As the name implies, a Completion Certificate is a certificate of completion!
Once treatment has been completed in line with the JKMP, the completion certificate will be issued once there is clear evidence of 2 years of no recurrence.