Japanese Knotweed: Insure or Litigate?

According to a recent YouGov poll, 63% of house buyers would consider suing former owners if they discovered Japanese Knotweed in their garden after moving in.

Although sellers of properties are asked in the TA6 form whether they are aware if Japanese Knotweed affects their garden, the majority will not make any serious attempts to discover it.

While litigation may be an option for a disgruntled buyer (a claim for misrepresentation), it is a longwinded, challenging, and costly process. As seen in recent headlines, cases related to knotweed have taken over five years to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

If knotweed is identified at a property, a local authority can issue a remediation notice obliging the current owner to deal with it and bear the costs of doing so.

An option for the buyer to mitigate its exposure to costs without relying on litigation, is to insure against this risk. This can be done through a Stewart Title’s Residential Japanese Knotweed Indemnity Policy, which insures against losses arising from the risk.

The key component for cover is a seller’s response in the TA6 which is either that there is no knotweed at the property or that the seller is not aware of its presence. Our policy will provide cover for residential properties for a period of five years for buyers, and for lenders for the term of their loan. The policy is available for a premium of £40 and provides up to £20,000 of cover against remediation costs necessary to comply with a remediation notice served by a local authority.

Policies can be ordered via Stewart Title’s online ordering platform: www.stewartsolution.com.

For more details of the Japanese Knotweed Policy, contact Robert Kelly at robert.kelly@stewart.com.

This article was submitted to be published by Stewart Title as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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