Japanese knotweed and Mortgages - what you need to know

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There are many great things to come from Japan. Sadly, Japanese knotweed is not one of them. For clients that have come across it, it can be an absolute nightmare to sell or buy a property that has or has had Japanese knotweed. 

As my wife will tell you happily, I am useless in the garden. However, from my understanding, Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing Japanese plant of the dock family, with bamboo-like stems and small white flowers. It was brought to the UK as an ornamental plant but it has become an aggressive weed. It can grow up to 10cm per day, and because of this rapid growth, it has been known to cause damage to building structures and foundations by targeting weak points, such as cracks in masonry, and attempting to grow through them. 

My first comment when a client asks me about buying a property that has had or still has Knotweed is: do you really want the hassle? I don’t personally like to see a client buy an asset they may have issues selling later on. However, if this property is “the one”, then of course we will try to make it happen for a client. 

Most lenders use a commonly accepted scale to first decide how bad the Knotweed is.

Mortgages for properties with Japanese knotweed
Category Risk Description
4 Japanese knotweed is within 7 metres of a habitable space, conservatory and/or garage, either within the boundaries of this property or in a neighbouring property or space; and/or Japanese knotweed is causing serious damage to outbuildings, associated structures, drains, paths, boundary walls and fences.
3 Although Japanese knotweed is present within the boundaries of the property, it is more than 7 metres from a habitable space, conservatory and/or garage. If there is damage to outbuildings, associated structures, paths and the boundary walls, it is minor.
2 Japanese knotweed was not seen within the boundaries of this property, but it was seen on a neighbouring property or land. Here, it was within 7 metres of the boundary, but more than 7 metres away from habitable spaces, conservatory and/or garage of the subject property.
1 Japanese knotweed was not seen on this property, but it can be seen on a neighbouring property or land where it was more than 7 metres away from the boundary.

Different lenders have different views on Knotweed. The main lenders policies are here. 

Lenders policies
Lender Policy
Accord Category 3 or 4 - Specialist Report required including details of treatment plan. Condition to be on the offer. Full retention to be held until the first part of the works completed. Category 1 or 2 - should be on the offer drawing the applicant’s attention to the valuer’s comments.
Barclays Dependent on what category has been found but will typically lend as long as there is a treatment in place.
Clydesdale Stages 1&2 can usually be ignored and the lender is happy. Stages 3&4 the lender can still look to proceed assuming acceptable treatment plan from a recognised body is/can be put in place. May require future visits to property to confirm plan being put in place. May want funds set aside in an escrow account to confirm funds in place to pay for future treatment.
Halifax Subject to the valuer confirming the property is suitable security and providing present condition valuation figure. Require a report outlining the issues and a quote from a treatment company who must be a member of the Property Care Association or be able to offer a warranty backed treatment plan
Nationwide 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
Santander Normally ok as long as they can show Knotweed has been treated and there is a plan in place for the ongoing treatment if needed. May want funds set aside in an escrow account to confirm funds in place to pay for future treatment.
Skipton Typically categories 1&2 are acceptable but 3&4 are not.

Purchasing a property that has or has had Knotweed is clearly something a client needs to think about carefully. Even properties that are close to but not effected by Knotweed directly can have issues at survey stage. Once the Knotweed issue has been overcome, it’s an identical process to any other mortgage process. 

If you are having issues with this type of property, please get in contact as we know the right people to help.

David Baker – Latest Blog Posts

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