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Japanese knotweed: What are your landlord's responsibilities?
Published 14 November 2016 by Emily Bancroft
Who will have to sort out a Japanese knotweed problem?
Finding Japanese knotweed on the grounds of a property is probably one of the worst things that could happen to homebuyers. It can mean they’ll struggle to get a mortgage and they might even see a drop in the value of the property.
If you’re a renter, Japanese knotweed might not be quite as much of a worry. After all, you don’t actually own the property. But will you need to pay for the Japanese knotweed removal or is this your landlord’s responsibility? It all depends on your tenancy agreement – we’ll take you through what you need to look for.
What is Japanese knotweed?
First up, what is Japanese knotweed? How do you know if the leafy plant in your garden is actually knotweed and not just another plant?
Look out for:
• green heart-shaped leaves,
• bunches of tiny cream flowers, and
• a long hollow stem.
It dies back in the winter and it will leave brown stems. But this doesn’t mean it’s gone – it will grow back in the spring.
Take a look at your contract
If you think you definitely do have Japanese knotweed on your property, take a look at your rental contract. This should tell you whether it’s up to you to take care of the garden in your property or if this is your landlord’s responsibility. Whether you’ll have to deal with it or not might also depend on whether the knotweed was there when you moved in, though it can be difficult to prove it was.
Get in touch with your landlord as soon as you discover the Japanese knotweed. Even if it’s your responsibility to keep the garden tidy, your landlord might be willing to help out with the cost of removing the weed. This is because it can damage the structure of the building – something your landlord definitely won’t want.
How to treat it
Getting rid of Japanese knotweed can work out fairly expensive, depending on the treatment you choose. Speak to a weed expert and they can tell you about the benefits of each, as well as which would be best for you.
Killing the plant off with weed killer is usually the cheapest option, although this can still cost around £4,000. This can take a while though, as you’ll need to wait until next spring to check if it just grows back.
Digging up the knotweed is faster and can be more effective but this is generally more expensive. The reason for this is that you can’t just throw it in the tip when you’re done as Japanese knotweed is controlled waste so you have to take it to special landfill sites. This can cost as much as £10,000.
If you’ve got a shared garden and the landlord says it’s your responsibility to get rid of the knotweed, speak to the other tenants. Even if you ultimately organise removing the Japanese knotweed, it doesn’t mean you should be left with the bill on your own.