RICS targets the root of Japanese Knotweed lending scare in Yorkshire & Humber

RICS has launched the country’s first multi-industry approved advice to encourage banks to lend on homes across Yorkshire and Humberside affected by one of the UK’s most notorious foreign plants, Japanese Knotweed.

The plant, which originates from Japan, is renowned for striking fear into the hearts of homeowners across the region, with many vendors being left stranded, unable to sell their property, as lenders are reluctant to provide loans on properties potentially affected by the plant.

Knotweed, which can grow up to three meters in height in just ten weeks – taller than a British red telephone box – is notorious for causing damage to pavements and walls and has left surveyors and lenders across the country unsure of how to measure the impact and risk of the plant to properties.

Uncertainty and a lack of information about Japanese Knotweed have resulted in many finance experts over-estimating the potential impact of the invasive plant. As a result, some homeowners are experiencing difficulties in securing loans when there is no evidence of damage to the property or the plant is not on their land and in a neighbouring garden.

RICS regional spokesperson, Jon Charters-Reid of Charters-Reid & Associates says:

“There is a real lack of information and understanding of what Japanese knotweed is and the actual damage it can cause. Because of this, some buyers have been left disappointed and homeowners bereft – unable to get the finance they need to sell and buy their dream home.

“At a time when it is essential to encourage lending to keep the housing market in the region moving, this RICS guidance will provide the experts with the tools they need to make clear and accurate decisions on the real impact of Japanese Knotweed and who and how much to lend.”

The RICS Japanese Knotweed information paper has been published to help lenders and surveyors accurately assess the risk caused by Knotweed. It has categorised the extent of the risk into four classifications, with tier one being the lowest; when the plant is seven meters or more from the property.

Using RICS advice and the risk classifications surveyors and lenders will be able to make more accurate decisions on if and how much finance can be offered.

Home owners and occupiers with Japanese Knotweed can eradicate the plant by hiring dedicated contractors who treat the plant with phosphate. With roots as deep as three metres, it can take several treatments for up to two years to kill it effectively.

Many contractors provide their clients with certification to demonstrate that the Japanese Knotweed has been effectively treated and no longer exists on or close to the property to reassure future buyers and lenders.