Japanese Knotweed in Islington – the mortgage perspective
A recent Islington mortgage case I worked on has highlighted two words that should strike fear into any homebuyer or homeowner: Japanese Knotweed.
It might sound exotic, it might even look quite pretty. But beware, this is no trivial matter. In fact, having spoken to a number of experts, it definitely sounds more ‘Triffid’ than ‘trivial’.
The problem is that this is a very aggressive plant, growing at a rate of up to 10cm a day. In doing so, it can push through concrete. Which, as you can imagine, is a potential risk if you own and live in a property with an infested garden. In my recent enquiries, I’ve heard stories of it coming up through living room floors.
It also grows in just about any soil type and it is highly contagious (spread through the roots and branches rather than airborne spores). Tearing up the roots is an industrial-sized job, since even the smallest remnant – as little as 0.7 grams – can be enough for it to grow back.
The good news is that treatment is possible, but it is intensive and requires regular reapplications over a prolonged period (preferably 24 months). Some companies can provide guarantees, typically five years (or longer, albeit at additional expense).
Altogether, any risk to structural integrity is a major risk to any mortgage lender looking to use a building as security against a loan for a period of 25+ years.As a result, most lenders will run a mile at the first sign of Japanese Knotweed (even in neighbouring properties).
And therein lies a major problem. If lenders aren’t willing to lend, then buyers, sellers, estate agents and re-mortgagers all have a major problem.
Fortunately, treatment processes have improved recently and there are a handful of lenders now willing to take a slightly more pragmatic approach. However, don’t underestimate the challenges: treatment must be underway, the weed must be away from the buildings and (perhaps the hardest to judge) the surveyor must be satisfied.
If you find you yourself with a Japanese Knotweed problem where you need a mortgage or a remortgage, please get in touch.
We have recently identified three lenders willing to consider applications on a case-by-case basis. All may not be lost, but do be prepared for a laborious (and potentially expensive) process. We can also put you in touch with an eradication specialist.You will need to take the following steps:
- Ensure a proper treatment programme is underway
- Focus on the weeds nearest the building first
- Don’t cut corners
- Get guarantees for as long as you can (lenders would like to see guarantees extend beyond the term of their mortgage)
- Be as transparent as possible, particularly with the surveyor. Don’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes as when you come to sell you could be liable for misrepresentation if you don’t declare it.
If Japanese Knotweed affects you (in Islington or any other London borough), please do not hesitate to get in touch on 020 7125 0224 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also take a look at the following blog which outlines some of the legal perspectives from local solicitor firm Bolt Burdon: www.boltburdon.co.uk/sitecore/content/BB/Global/Blogs/A%20Knotty%20Problem.aspx (This link takes you to an external website. We are not responsible for its content.)
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