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Knotweed Landmark Ruling Paves Way For Many Homeowners

02 Aug 2017

Posted in Property

Many homeowners will know that Japanese knotweed is a sizeable issue, which can badly affect property.

Therefore, the recent case of a home owner who has been awarded damages against his neighbour, after his property became affected due to knotweed on neighbouring land is of great interest to many.

Here at Pindoria Solicitors as property dispute solicitors in London,we have certainly found it worthy of note.

Japanese knotweed is one of the world’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plants and has the ability to grow three to four metres during the growing season and with roots that can spread several metres.

Structurally, it is a nightmare, and has been known to cause huge damage to buildings and walls. So serious it is as an issue that the presence of Japanese knotweed on neighbouring land can devalue a property significantly and make it hard to secure a mortgage

That is why the case of Robin Waistell v Network Rail Infrastructure Limited has made many take notice.

Mr Waistell’s property was infiltrated from the growth of Japanese knotweed from the adjoining land owned by Network Rail so he took Network Rail to courton the grounds of nuisance, due to encroachment by the knotweed, and substantial interference with his use and enjoyment of his land.

However, Network Rail contested the claim on the grounds that no significant physical damage had been caused to Mr Waistell’s property, so the encroachment of the knotweed was not actionable and also that the presence of the knotweed on Mr Waistell’s land did not interfere with the use and enjoyment of it.

The rail giant, which owns much of the rail infrastructure on the British mainland also said due to the amount of land which it owned, it should only have to take such steps as were reasonable in all the circumstances to avoid damage being caused to any neighbouring land. It added that it only had limited resources which were prioritised to operational safety.

However, the Judge held that the encroachment by the knotweed was not actionable unless it caused physical damage but found that there was an actionable nuisance as the knotweed interfered with the value of Mr Waistell’s property because he could not sell it for its full market value.

As a result he ordered Network Rail to pay for the cost of treating the knotweed and also awarded Mr Waistell an amount to reflect the reduction in property value.

It was a County Court decision, which will probably be appealed by Network Rail, yet it is seen as significant.
This is the first time it has been held that the presence of knotweed on an adjoining propertyis capable of being a nuisance if it prevents the adjoining owner from obtaining full market value for his property.

It has placed an obligation on landowners not only to prevent encroachment of Japanese knotweed onto others land but also ensure that there is no reduction of the value of properties due to the knotweed.

As we said, this is probably not the end of the matter, but property dispute solicitors and many homeowners plagued by knotweed will certainly be keeping an eye on the legal ramifications of this unfolding tale.