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Can I Do Equity Release If I Have Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese knotweed is an invasive weed that can cause you some issues when it comes to your property, getting a mortgage and applying for an equity release loan.

This is because Japanese knotweed can cause structural damage to your property if it is left without being taken care of.

Due to this, it is important to consider the fact that an equity release lender might not approve you for an equity release loan if your property has been affected by Japanese knotweed.

This is because mortgage and equity release lenders need to be reassured that they will get their money back once you sell the house and repay the loan.

If your property has been affected by Japanese knotweed, then there is a chance your house might decrease in value, especially if it is suffering structurally due to an invasive weed such as Japanese knotweed.

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How does equity release work?

Equity release works really well for those aged 55 who want to gain access to more money but do not want to sell their home.

When you release equity from your home, you gain access to a set amount of money which you are able to spend on whatever you want [1].

You do not have to repay the loan until after you pass away, upon which your house will be sold and the loan will be repaid.

Your property will have most likely increased in value since you took out the loan, so should be able to cover the entire cost of the loan. This will include any interest that has been charged, which will have compounded over time [1].

There are two main types of equity release, known as lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans.

Whilst lifetime mortgages are the most popular type of equity release plan across the UK, home reversion plan s are still a great option if you don’t mind selling a percentage of your home to the lender in exchange for access to the equity that has built up inside your home.

With both types of equity release loans, you will never be asked by a lender or an adviser to move out of your home or sell up for any reason.

If this is the case, then there is chance that you might have been scammed, as no equity release adviser or lender will ask you to move out of your home if you have stuck to the terms and conditions of your loan.

How much equity you are able to release depends on a number of different factors, including your age, your health and the total value of your property.

Any equity release lender will ask you for a current valuation of your property in order to work out how much equity you are able to release [1].

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How Does Japanese Knotweed Work And What is It?

Japanese Knotweed is a type of plant and weed that originally came from East Asia. It can grow incredibly tall, in fact it has been known to grow up to 12 feet tall in some climates. It grows back incredibly strong and quickly, even after you cut it back, dig it up or even try burning it off.

For this reason, Japanese Knotweed has gained a huge reputation for being incredibly difficult to deal with and get rid of.

Japanese Knotweed loves water, so tends to grow near water or next to houses or buildings. It also tends to grow close to riverbanks, lakes, pavements and in waste disposal centres.

Japanese Knotweed grows really well across most of Europe, but is particularly bad in the UK, France and Belgium.

Japanese Knotweed is usually found mostly in the South West of England, including places such as Devon and Cornwall as well as the Isles of Scilly.

It is also known to grow in parts of Wales, such as Cardiff, Swansea, Powys and Carmarthenshire. Likewise, the weed can also be found in the very north of the country, including Scotland.

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What Does Japanese Knotweed Look Like?

Japanese Knotweed can be difficult to spot at times. It tends to look like heart-shaped, green leaves with white flowers.

The stems are always hollow and look a bit like bamboo, which can grow really tall in the summer months.

The flower heads can be really spikey when they blossom, and turn from purple to pink and then eventually to red as the autumn months begin. The flowers are usually always heart shaped and can turn into small white flowers during the autumn and winter months [2].

Identifying Japanese Knotweed in the winter months can be more difficult, as they will lose their leaves during the winter months.

However, a tell-tale sign that you are suffering from Japanese Knotweed is that the shoots will remain strong and long, despite no leaves.

Whilst the weed is difficult to identify during the winter, this is often the best time to try to tackle the weed if it is about to damage or encroach on your property [2].

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How Can I Get Rid of Japanese Knotweed?

If you find Japanese Knotweed near your property or inside your garden, then you will need to hire a specialist to help you get rid of the weed from your property as soon as possible, before it grows or spreads anymore.

It is important that they fully rid your property of the weed from the root, as this type of weed has incredibly thick and strong roots which can remain and grow back. Lots of specialists will choose to dig up the space around the Japanese Knotweed.

They will need to be sure that they are getting rid of every trace of the weed, including the root as there only needs to be 0.8g of a root left behind in order for the root to grow back.

Once they have got the weed out of your garden or land, they will then need to dispose of it in a designated and licensed landfill site.

There are now also a number of chemicals that are available which will help rid your property or land of the weed. However, these chemicals can sometimes take a long time to work, with some taking up to 5 years in order to eradicate the weed.

This option can also be incredibly expensive, costing some people up to £2,500 for a small amount of Japanese Knotweed and even more if your case is deemed major.

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What Problems Does Japanese Knotweed Cause?

Japanese Knotweed has the ability to cause some serious structural damage to your property. This can even affect the foundations of your property, with the root system affecting brickwork, paving, tarmac and even flood defences.

Due to these issues, if your property is found to suffer from Japanese Knotweed then your property might be valued at 15% less due to this.

Japanese Knotweed grows so fast because the roots grow beneath the ground without you even noticing. In fact, the roots can grow as much as 7 metres away from where the plant grows, which is a considerable amount of growth [3].

However, a recent study carried out by the University of Leeds found that studies might be overestimating the capabilities of the plant, as they believe it does not do as much damage to the structure of a property than people believe [4].

It is important to understand that Japanese Knotweed is not poisonous and it does not pose any physical danger to you, to your family or even to your pets.

However, the weed does have the ability to ruin other plants or vegetables that are growing in the area, as they simply cannot grow whilst the weed continues to spread at the rate that it does.

In addition to this, it is important to think about the environmental impact Japanese Knotweed has on the wildlife around your home. The weed quickly stifles the growth of other plants nearby, which the wildlife relies on in order to survive.

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What happens if my neighbour has Japanese Knotweed on their property?

It is important to think about how a neighbour’s Japanese Knotweed might also affect your property, especially when it comes to selling your property.

If you do have a neighbour whose property suffers from Japanese Knotweed, then this might have an affect on the sale of your property and might even devalue your property when it comes to sell, which can cause a huge problem if your neighbour is not willing to rid their property of the invasive weed.

This can even cause a huge dispute, and if your property is refusing to sort the problem out and get rid of the knotweed, then they might even be issued with an anti-social behaviour order.

Whilst this might prompt some neighbours to sort the problem out and pay for the Japanese Knotweed to be treated and disposed of, it might also cause a lot of conflict between your neighbours.

There might even be a dispute about who is going to pay for the service.

For example, some might argue that the property owners need to pay for the knotweed to be disposed of, whereas others might argue that the individual who is selling their house needs to pay for the service, as it’s them who is demanding that it be taken care of.

It is important to note that if you live next to a commercial railway line, then there will be laws and regulations about Japanese Knotweed.

For example, Network Rail lost a court battle against a homeowner who refused to get rid of Japanese Knotweed on their land, even though it was having an effect on the railway next to their house.

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How Much Does It Cost to Remove Knotweed?

If your property suffers from Japanese Knotweed, then it might end up costing you thousands to get rid of it. However, it is also important to consider and weigh up the cost of the potential damage it can do to your property if it goes untreated.

As the topic is now a growing concern, the House Commons Science and Technology Committee wrote a report [5] on Japanese Knotweed in the Built Environment which concluded that the typical cost of treatment was around £2,000 – £2,500, or 1% – 2% of the total property value.

This means that you should still be able to make a considerable amount of profit when it comes to selling your property, even after paying for the Japanese Knotweed to be eradicated.

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Which Equity Release Lenders Accept Japanese Knotweed?

Historically, banks and lenders have been willing to offer mortgages on properties which have Japanese Knotweed.

However, it is important to understand that a number of banks and lenders are now starting to refuse people a mortgage because they are concerned about how invasive the weed is and what effect it might have on the property in the long term, especially by the time you come to sell the property.

Mainly, banks and lenders are concerned about how the weed is able to climb walls at such a fast paced and how they are also able to climb through gutters and into the pipe work around the property.

In effect, Japanese Knotweed can cause damage to your drainage pipes, your brickwork and the overall structure of the property, which could end up costing you tens of thousands to repair and can cause some serious structural concern when it comes to your property.

Whilst there is no definitive list of equity release lenders and providers who are not offering mortgages on properties which suffer from Japanese Knotweed, more and more lenders are turning down applicants for this reason and it is a growing concern within the equity release industry.

Whilst each equity release lender and company has their own terms and conditions when it comes to Japanese Knotweed, they will tend to ask that a survey is done on the property, which will highlight any issues within the property, both internally and externally, including Japanese Knotweed.

Below is a list of questions your equity release lender or provider might ask you if you do suffer from Japanese Knotweed:

  • How extensive is the problem?
  • Has your issue been classified as A, B, C or D in severity?
  • Where is the Japanese Knotweed located on the property or the land?
  • Have you or anyone else tried to remove the problem in the past?
  • If so, who tried to remove it and did they use any chemicals?
  • If someone has previously tried to rid the property of the weed, did the company provide a guarantee for their work?

Most of these questions can be answered by doing a survey and sending it off to your solicitor who will then pass the relevant information on to your lender and equity release provider.

If not, the previous owners of the property will be able to answer some of the questions listed above, depending on how long you have lived and owned the property for.

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How to Get Help

If you want to release equity from your home but are concerned that your property has Japanese Knotweed, then you should speak to an equity release adviser about what your options are.

Depending of the severity of the problem, equity release lenders might be willing to lend you money and release equity from your home, as long as they are confident that they will get a return on their investment when you pass away and sell the property, as the no negative equity guarantee means that they will find themselves liable to pay off the equity release loan should your property decrease in value for any reason.

If you want more information on whether or not you will be able to release equity from a property which suffers from Japanese Knotweed, then speak to a member of the Equity Release Warehouse for more help and support on how you might be able to release equity from your home.

Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 0330 058 1579







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