A homeowner in Highgate, North London, has won £50,000 in damages after a surveyor failed to spot a clump of Japanese knotweed in his garden. Paul Ryb, a former investment banker, purchased the two-story property for £1.3 million before hiring a surveyor to ensure it was safe to live in. Despite being told that his garden was in “excellent condition”, the surveyor failed to spot the invasive plant, which can cause harm to other plants and kill them. It is also a legal requirement to declare the presence of the plant when moving into or selling a home. If left to grow, it could have taken over the entire garden.
Paul was forced to spend £10,000 to clear the area of the plant, which he had no prior knowledge of. He only became aware of its presence when his mother visited and pointed out the clump of Japanese knotweed. Paul then took the surveyor to court, arguing that he had failed to spot the plant during his inspection. The court recognised Paul’s significant expenditure and the interference on his property, which affected his “ability to use and enjoy the land”. As a result, he was awarded £50,000 in damages.
Rodger Burnett, the lawyer who represented Paul, had previously discovered knotweed at his own London home before specialising in the law. Professionals tasked with removing Japanese knotweed often have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep themselves safe. The most common signs of knotweed are small purple shoots that appear from the ground at a rapid rate. If they grow too close to buildings, damage can also occur.
This case highlights the importance of carrying out thorough checks when purchasing a property. It is essential to hire a qualified surveyor who can identify potential issues, such as the presence of invasive plants like Japanese knotweed. Failure to spot such issues can result in significant costs and legal action.
Furthermore, homeowners should familiarise themselves with the laws surrounding the presence of knotweed. It is a criminal offence to plant or cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild, and it is also illegal to allow it to spread from your property to neighbouring land. Homeowners are required to take steps to prevent the spread of the plant and must notify potential buyers if it is present on their property.
In recent years, Japanese knotweed has become a growing concern in the UK. The plant can cause significant damage to buildings, roads, and other structures, and it can be challenging to eradicate. It is estimated that the cost of removing knotweed from a property can range from £2,500 to £20,000, depending on the severity of the infestation.
In conclusion, this case serves as a reminder of the importance of carrying out thorough checks when purchasing a property. Homeowners should be aware of the laws surrounding the presence of Japanese knotweed and take steps to prevent its spread. Failure to do so can result in significant costs and legal action, as seen in the case of Paul Ryb.