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Do I have a nuisance claim against my neighbours because of Japanese Knotweed?

View profile for Helen Porter
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Our Residential Conveyancing team have previously discussed how to spot Japanese Knotweed on your property, but could you have legal grounds to make a claim if your neighbour’s land has Japanese Knotweed that is encroaching upon your land?  Helen Porter, Paralegal in our Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, here discusses the recent case of Network Rail Infrastructure v Williams, which has demonstrated that Japanese Knotweed does not have to cause damage to a neighbouring property for it to cause a nuisance. 

Network Rail Infrastructure v Williams [2018]

Japanese Knotweed is a non-native plant that was brought into the UK in the 19th century and has become well known for its uncontrollable and difficult nature. 

In this case, Mr Williams’ rear wall backed onto land owned by Network Rail Infrastructure where Japanese Knotweed was present and had been for 50 years. He claimed that this amounted to a nuisance of his enjoyment of the land as it affected the value of the property.

The Court found that the encroachment of Japanese Knotweed can give rise to an actionable nuisance claim even though no physical damage had been caused. The presence of Japanese Knotweed caused a risk of future physical damage to the neighbouring land and as such imposed an immediate burden on the neighbouring landowners.  This is because the neighbours would find it more difficult to develop their land and therefore this would reduce the utility and amenity of their land; giving rise to nuisance due to the presence of the Japanese Knotweed.

What does this mean for landowners who have Japanese Knotweed present?

Landowners should take this case as a warning, and look to remove any Japanese Knotweed on their property as soon as possible.  The remedy available to a successful claimant in negligence proceedings is likely to involve bringing an injunction to compel the landowner to treat the Japanese Knotweed. This may be costly for the landowner as they would not only have Court costs, but they would also bear the costs of the removal of the plant.

As such, to prevent proceedings being issued and to mitigate those costs, if you know you have Japanese Knotweed on your land, you should engage licensed contractors to remove or treat it.  A licensed contractor is the only way to ensure the removal of Japanese Knotweed due to its uncontrollable and invasive nature.

What to do if your neighbour’s land has Japanese Knotweed?

If your neighbour’s land has Japanese Knotweed that encroaches onto your land, you may have an actionable negligence claim if they are not removing or treating the plant.  We would always recommend you approach your neighbour before starting legal proceedings to discuss the situation with them and attempt to reach a resolution.  If they refuse to remove or treat the plant, then we would advise you seek legal advice to discuss the next steps in bringing a claim against them to protect your property against future damage.

If you would like more information about bringing a claim against your neighbour, you can contact Laura or the Litigation and Dispute Resolution team on 023 8071 7412 or email laurablakemore@warnergoodman.co.uk.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.