Japanese Knotweed: How to Get Rid of it From Your Rental Properties


Picture of Japanese Knotweed

The storms that hit Britain in February may bring additional consequences for landlords and their rental properties. Japanese knotweed specialists have claimed that the flooding that followed Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin might have provided the right conditions for the invasive and potentially damaging plant to spread to new areas of the country. This article explains how to spot Japanese knotweed, how to get rid of it and the damage it can do if you do not.


What is Japanese Knotweed?


Japanese knotweed is a weed that can grow up to more than two metres tall in the summer. At some points, it can grow up to ten centimetres a day in gardens. It was initially brought to the country as an ornamental plant, but it soon spread into the wild, causing issues with its ability to grow through vulnerabilities and weaknesses in concrete. This is why it is such an issue for homeowners and landlords of rental properties.


As the species is often found in riverbanks, experts fear that the three named storms, which hit the UK within the space of a week could have dislodged soil containing root particles and sent it downstream to areas not previously exposed to an infestation. With more than 60 flood warnings issued around the country during the affected period, this could mean that more unlucky property owners join the ranks of the 1.45 million it is estimated already suffer from an invasion.


Potential Japanese Knotweed Damage


For a property owner, the potential cost of Japanese knotweed damage can be great. It targets the weak points of structures and substructures, meaning it can affect your tarmac and paving. Worse, it can weaken your retaining walls and even the building foundations. In fact, the species is such a problem that some mortgage companies will not even lend to people looking to buy properties infested with Japanese knotweed. How to get rid of it depends on whether you book in a professional or tackle it yourself.


Whatever you do, you should not ignore this weed.


Japanese Knotweed in UK Law


There are some requirements for property owners relating to Japanese knotweed in UK law. Although it is not illegal to have it on your property, it is illegal to allow it to spread in the wild. This means that you must control it. Failing to control the weed can see you face a fine of up to £2,500.


If you allow the knotweed in your garden to spread to your neighbours, you can be issued with a Community Protection Notice. This is used for owners who “persistently or continually” allow this to occur and requires you to make a reasonable effort to arrest the spread, remove it and prevent it from returning.


What Does Japanese Knotweed Look Like?


At first, you get reddish-purple shoots growing from pink buds in the ground. They then grow into canes that resemble bamboo, which have purple flecks with branches that emerge from the sides. It has heart-shaped leaves and creamy-white flower tassels that appear late in the summer.


It is important that you know what Japanese knotweed looks like but also that your tenants are alert to it too. They are the people who are in the property every day and can give you an early warning of problems in your garden, so you can take preventative action.


Japanese Knotweed: How to Get Rid


There are three main ways to get rid of Japanese knotweed:


  • Use chemicals, picking only approved herbicides for the job. This can take more than three years to completely get rid of the traces from the soil.

  • Bury the dead brown canes (cut ten or more centimetres above the crown, not pulled) at a depth of five metres if you don’t seal in a geotextile membrane, or two metres if you do. You should inform the Environment Agency at least a month before attempting this.

  • Burn the knotweed, burying anything that survives the fire. Individuals need to check with the local council that burning is allowed, businesses must inform the Environment Agency at least a week before and have the correct permits.


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