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31 Jan 2023 < Back

TA6: Are You Ticking All The Right Boxes?

Japanese knotweed has been creating headline news again, and unsurprisingly, it’s not for anything positive. A plethora of newspapers have highlighted a recent court case where an individual failed to declare the presence of Japanese knotweed on the TA6 form...and ticked the wrong box. God forbid there would be anything that doesn’t incite fear into the hearts of its readers, lenders or homeowners when we breach the taboo topic of Japanese knotweed in a domestic environment.

The story has helped the plant be catapulted back to the front of every social media post from ‘Google’ informed individuals, who claim it’s 'impossible to get rid of', it 'will tear through your foundations like a hot knife through butter'...or my personal favorite, the nonsensical referencing to 'The Day Of The Triffids'. If there isn’t a better attention grabbing hook like fear itself, then I don’t know what is!

The perils of the TA6 form

Ticking a box should be simplistic enough, but for those unaware, the TA6 form is a legal binding document completed by the vendor which highlights critical information about the property to the potential buyer. This form asks a very simple question: “Is the property affected by Japanese Knotweed?” to which a tick box answer is either Yes, No, or Not Known.

An update to this document came in Feb 2020 from The Law Society who hoped to provide more clarity to an area that was previously as clear as mud! The update states:

“If you are unsure that Japanese knotweed exists above or below ground or whether it has previously been managed on the property, please indicate this as 'Not known'. If 'No' is chosen as an answer, the seller must be certain that no rhizome (root) is present in the ground of the property, or within 3 metres of the property boundary even if there are no visible signs above ground.”

The aforementioned defendant sold their property and ticked “No” on the TA6 form. A pre-purchase surveyors report was undertaken which did not identify any visual Japanese knotweed. However, unfortunately for the new owners, the demonic plant was hidden between a shed and maturing bush. Cut to the base of the plant by the vendor, it left almost nothing visually identifiable during the property purchase process. Thus, leading us to the issue of amenity value loss, development restrictions, remediation costs, potential property value loss, but much more tangible in this incident, a TA6 form with the wrong box purposely ticked.

The defendant claimed they “reasonably believed” there was no presence of Japanese knotweed, however, court findings suggested otherwise. Was this a cunning ploy to simply avoid the almost automatic claims of up to 15% off property value just by having the invasive plant on your property? Was this a genuine mistake to which the defendant answered to what the felt was honest?

As homeowners, what box should you be ticking?

If you answer “No” then you are making a clear declaration that you know Japanese knotweed is not present. A statement that can be hard to stand by if you can’t truly identify the plant in all its forms, or don’t understand the potential dormancy periods it inflicts. Answer “Yes” and face the wrath of the mortgage lenders where you will need an appropriate remediation plan, with specialist insurance. Then you have to face a barrage of bartering for a price reduction like you're within the Grand Bazaar of Turkey.

Or you could just answer “Not Known” which feels slightly like a cop-out but how else are you going to cover yourself? You are not a Certified Surveyor in Japanese knotweed (CSJK), and quite possibly don’t know the difference between Fuchsias and Verbena, let alone make a judgement call on a plant which can have serious legal implications. None of these options exempt you from future legalities of Japanese knotweed, so no matter what box you decide to tick, make sure you know what your signing up to.

What options do homeowners have?

Surprisingly, homeowners do have viable options moving forward. Specialist Japanese knotweed companies can provide reports which will offer some insight into the situation. Getting a report done prior to a sale can help ease the burden. A competent and qualified CSJK surveyor will attend the property and check for signs of the pesty plant. Quite often you will find them with heads in bushes and around sheds to make sure that every inch of the external gardens are inspected. Combine that report with your TA6 form and that should help any potential buyer make an informed decision. These reports are however likely to be caveated as a visual or non-intrusive survey, which may not necessarily identify dormant growth within the soil.

Going a step further, there are options of canine detection dogs who can actively hunt out active and dormant growth however, these still come with limitations of their own. For the sake of a minimal fee in comparison to the potential risk, legal fees and future remediation fees, perhaps getting a pre-emptive survey would be best...especially if you truly don’t know what Japanese knotweed is?

Who are the real winners?

Perhaps we can say that the winners are the lawyers who each earnt an estimated £100k, however just to note that proceedings to this caliber come with real expertise, knowledge and a heavy investment of time.

Unfortunately, homeowners never win when it comes to Japanese knotweed. It’s a long and laborious process when buying/selling a property, yet only made longer in these undesirable circumstances. The buyer faced a war of attrition, won an estimated £32k which I doubt is hardly worth the aggravation they have endured. Depending on your opinion, the vendor has deservedly been slapped with a combined legal bill of over £200k, by purposely misleading and ticking the wrong box.

It's not just about ticking a box, but it does highlight the need for an integrity check. It’s OK to have Japanese knotweed despite what the internet tells you. It’s OK to speak to your neighbours about Japanese Knotweed. It’s OK to seek a specialist company to engage in works and offer remediation solutions and it’s OK to not know what Japanese knotweed is.

But it’s NOT OK to knowingly mislead people regarding the presence of Japanese knotweed and it’s NOT OK to knowingly tick the wrong box...



Keith Thomas

Hi James, posted in similar vein on LinkedIn this morning. However, it must be said that much of the ‘race to the bottom’ is being fuelled by members from the manufacturing/ supplier contingent

Paul Green

Well said James The race to the bottom is an age old / not new phenomenon, (albeit maybe exasperated more recently ?), and with ref to the comments about utilising experts from inception stages I cannot concur more with you, and in my humble opinion, more emphasis needs to be placed on our members standing their ground where shoddy substrates / concrete needs to be a major consideration before even contemplating to propose or install any BS;8102 compliant waterproofing systems, or any combinations of them, and it would perhaps better serve both our members, and their clients, if our cohorts had a greater understanding of say, watertight concrete too, and if it helps, I for one would be happy to offer a member friendly CPD type presentation on type-B waterproofing to broaden the knowledge base of some of our younger members too ?

Andrew Young

I’m trying to find a company who is associated to your organisation that can remove our Icynene spray foam from our pitched roof. I have been unsuccessful at this time, could you advise me please

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