We’re always shouting about the importance of checking your property for Japanese knotweed, as once this plant takes hold, it can cause enormous amounts of costly damage.
A London homeowner experienced this first-hand when he had to pay for it to be professionally removed, costing £10,000. Before buying his ground floor flat, Paul Ryb, who is almost blind, commissioned Chartered Surveyor Conways to undertake an assessment, which included a Level Three RICS Building Survey of the property. This is the most comprehensive level of survey, so you would expect accurate results from such extensive work. It included an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition, as well as a visual inspection of the grounds.
The Chartered Surveyor fed back in its report that the property was in excellent condition and recommended that the sale proceed.
It was a year later that My Ryb found out a mistake had been made when a gardener spotted Japanese knotweed growing in the garden. He then contacted Environet, specialists in the removal of this pesky plant, who performed their own survey, confirming it to be growing in three places.
Based on the maturity of the plant, Environet reported that it had been growing in the garden for more than three years. It would even have been in leaf and flowering when the original survey before the purchase took place, making it clearly identifiable.
Professional surveyors should know exactly what to look out for when checking a property for Japanese knotweed, but if you wish to know more about the signs of an infestation and how to deal with it, check out our guide.
After paying the fee to have the knotweed removed, Mr Ryb then sued the surveyor for negligence, costs and damage, which included ‘making good’ of the gardens and grounds.
The case was successful, and the Judge not only awarded him costs and damages, but also the difference between the price he originally paid for the property and what it would have cost if the survey had been done properly and the Japanese knotweed disclosed. He won a total of £50,000 in compensation.
Paul Ryb commented: “I bought the property in good faith following a survey which gave it a clean bill of health. I wouldn’t have gone ahead if I’d known it was affected by Japanese knotweed. I am relieved to have won my case and I hope it gives hope to others who find themselves in a similar situation and have a legal case.”
As always, we remind all property investors to remain vigilant of Japanese knotweed. It is recommended that you undertake a thorough search of a property before investing, both inside and out, but, in the case that your Chartered Surveyor does let you down, it is comforting to see that justice can be obtained in court!