A horror story recently appeared in the press of a house in Hampshire that had been ravaged by the invasion of a bamboo plant. While there is awareness of the dangers of Japanese knotweed the problems that can face homeowners and buyers arising from other invasive plants are less well known.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 individuals can face criminal prosecution if they knowingly allow Japanese knotweed to grow and spread on to other neighbouring land. Such is the prominence of the threat posed by this plant that sellers are asked specific enquiries about its presence on their property in the standard property information forms provided by the Law Society that sellers are expected to complete and provide to their buyers.
There is no denying the structural damage that Japanese knotweed can do to a building. However, as bamboo also has the ability to penetrate brickwork, concrete, cavity walls and patios it has the potential to cause even more damage. But unlike the case of Japanese knotweed, there are currently no controls over the planting or maintenance of bamboo plants.
Turning to the property in Hampshire, many metres of bamboo were found to have penetrated the property’s ground floor and it was also found in the living room, kitchen and hall areas. The bamboo had even started growing through the cavity walls. The extent of the damage caused by the bamboo plant from a neighbour’s garden was so severe that the owners had to vacate the property and undertake repairs costing in excess of £100,000!
The offending bamboo had not even come from the back garden of the property itself. The bamboo plant was actually located in a neighbour’s garden where it has been planted in the ground and thereafter used to create an edging area within the garden.
So what can we learn from this?
For property owners, avoid planting any bamboo in the ground. If you know or believe there to be bamboo growing in the ground, seek specialist advice to eradicate or restrict growth. Given the more recent prevalence of bamboo warnings in the press, buyers and their advisors are more likely to ask more questions about bamboo so better to have a plan in place.
The principle of 'buyer beware' in conveyancing means the onus is on buyer to ensure that they inspect and arrange for adequate surveys to be carried out so that appropriate enquiries can be raised.
If you have any enquiries relating to the buying or selling of properties please contact Lara Murrell or Donal Murphy in our conveyancing team or contact our property litigation team if a dispute has arisen.