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    • 43429525
    • By 43429525 30th Nov 17, 12:33 AM
    • 3Posts
    • 12Thanks
    43429525
    Court Action - Surveyor Japanese Knotweed
    • #1
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:33 AM
    Court Action - Surveyor Japanese Knotweed 30th Nov 17 at 12:33 AM
    I write this early morning to try and clear my head to see if it will help me sleep.

    My situation - I purchased my a house late 2016 with a homebuyers survey paid. I didn't instruct the surveyor, my mortgage provider did.

    House is detached with public foot path to the side of the house with vegetation against the wall of property. A garden to the front and to the rear garden.

    I had no idea at the time what Japanese Knotweed (JKW) was, however it was brought to my attention and a professional company confirmed this to be true and a cost of 000's to treat. JKW growing in front and rear garden aswell as to the side of house. Infestation highlighted as Cat 4 on RICS scale, the highest rating.

    Seller ticked dont know on TA16, surveyor didn't comment JKW anywhere in report.

    Ive involved a solicitor and the surveyor has completed there response and continually accept no liability sending responses that the blame lies elsewhere. They comment thay the homebuyers report wouldnt take a surveyor to an external boundary, or that they should have gone outside to examine for JKW. Dead canes existed within the vegetation to the side if the house and an opinion of the JKW expert advises its about 5 years mature. It was growing thick in front and back garden in the summer.

    Has anyone been in this situation before or know of anyone? This is looking likely towards heading for court and I just want to hear if any similar situations exist and the outcome.

    Its legal ping pong at the minute but unsure if Im actually on the winning side here.
Page 2
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 30th Nov 17, 6:32 PM
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    Davesnave
    I don't see any discussion about eradicating the JKW? Surely that is the No 1 priority?.
    Originally posted by ProDave
    There would be cause for more urgency if it was the right time to treat, but the OP will have some months to decide whether to engage a company at a high cost, or DIY.

    I'd guess their choice might be determined by the outcome of an investigation into the surveyor's liability. I agree with ten-eighty that this is best approached via the complaints procedure in the first instance.
    'A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never sit in.'
    • daveyjp
    • By daveyjp 30th Nov 17, 6:32 PM
    • 7,322 Posts
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    daveyjp
    Getting rid of knotweed only costs many thousands if you go to a !!!8216;specialist!!!8217; who survives by charging thousands to get rid of it!

    A few hundred pounds paid to a general landscaper will see off most stands in one year with check visits thereafter. Once under control the householder can treat it.

    My approach would be to make a formal complaint to the surveying company explaining why their surveyor has fallen below the standards of the RICS and the advice in the !!!8216;Red Book!!!8217;, the surveyors !!!8216;Code of Practice!!!8217;.

    Offer them a remedy of a without prejudice settlement for maybe a couple of grand to cover your costs of removal and see what they say.

    It will be cheaper than employing lawyers and as chances are their lawyers will be bigger than yours.
    • Jimmy_Neutron
    • By Jimmy_Neutron 3rd Dec 17, 10:22 AM
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    Jimmy_Neutron
    If you are willing to post the postcode of your property "we" will be able to see the photos the estate agent took at the time the vendor listed the property on the market on Rightmove. You bought the property in November but chances are the photos where taken late summer.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 3rd Dec 17, 10:51 AM
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    Davesnave
    If you are willing to post the postcode of your property "we" will be able to see the photos the estate agent took at the time the vendor listed the property on the market on Rightmove. You bought the property in November but chances are the photos where taken late summer.
    Originally posted by Jimmy_Neutron
    Why can't the OP do that?

    Much as I like voyeuristic property porn, I don't think the OP really needs to share their address on the internet for all time!

    Anyway, if the object was concealment, the JK would have been eliminated temporarily before the photography.
    'A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never sit in.'
    • Jimmy_Neutron
    • By Jimmy_Neutron 3rd Dec 17, 11:08 AM
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    Jimmy_Neutron
    People on here ask all the time for links to properties to be able to give a more informed opinion.

    I asked if the op was "willing" to post the postcode so photos could be viewed of when the property was listed - if they don't want they don't have to no-one is demanding they do so.

    If there is no evidence of jkw from the photos as it has been removed but the other vegetation the op mentions in the first post remains I would be suspicious.

    Also jnw grows at a rapid pace so wouldn't the vendor be thinking what is this plant growing everywhere and try to find out what it is?
    • Nobbie1967
    • By Nobbie1967 3rd Dec 17, 11:14 AM
    • 697 Posts
    • 793 Thanks
    Nobbie1967
    Getting rid of knotweed only costs many thousands if you go to a ‘specialist’ who survives by charging thousands to get rid of it!

    A few hundred pounds paid to a general landscaper will see off most stands in one year with check visits thereafter. Once under control the householder can treat it.

    My approach would be to make a formal complaint to the surveying company explaining why their surveyor has fallen below the standards of the RICS and the advice in the ‘Red Book’, the surveyors ‘Code of Practice’.

    Offer them a remedy of a without prejudice settlement for maybe a couple of grand to cover your costs of removal and see what they say.

    It will be cheaper than employing lawyers and as chances are their lawyers will be bigger than yours.
    Originally posted by daveyjp
    The only problem with this is when they come to sell the property and are asked about JKW, unless it has been 'professionally' treated, it could cause an issue during the sale as no guarantees will be in place. Many years later they may be able to honestly say there is no JKW, but even a tiny bit of regrowth would have to be declared.

    Do they ask if the property has ever had it during your ownership, or only at present?
    • steampowered
    • By steampowered 3rd Dec 17, 12:00 PM
    • 2,178 Posts
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    steampowered
    Several posters suggested you go through the surveyor's complaints procedure. That sounds like a waste of time to me.

    The only thing you will get through the surveyor's complaints procedure is a stonewall. The surveyor is not going to admit liability or pay compensation through a complaints procedure.

    Going to an Ombudsman is also likely to be pointless. Surveyors are regulated by RICS, which is not an Ombudsman and doesn't award compensation. You could try complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you feel that your lender is somehow responsible but this is unlikely.

    The key legal question is whether the surveyor owed you a duty of care, or not. Your solicitor will have to advise you on this. You will need to check the survey paperwork to see what it says about this.

    I think it could be difficult to prove that the JKW was sufficiently obvious when the surveyor visited such that the surveyor should have noticed it. You'd probably have to have an independent expert appointed to advise the court on this.
    • 43429525
    • By 43429525 7th Jan 18, 3:10 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    43429525
    Just thought I'd update you on where I am with this, first of all I did write to the surveyor before engaging solicitors as they denied responsibility, the reason ive not gone through the Ombudsmen after going through their complaints process is that the damage exceeds the threshold for the Ombudsmen.

    The surveyor had an independent review done themselves and the report confirmed the JKW should have been observed and reported and not overlooked, so now I'm hoping it's just a case of settlement although they have yet to accept they are at fault despite their own independent report.

    first of
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 7th Jan 18, 5:25 PM
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    moneyistooshorttomention
    Good luck.

    You're fighting on behalf of a lot of other people too - so fingers crossed you win.
    NOT dancing to anyone else's tune.

    It's the 21st century now....
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 7th Jan 18, 5:44 PM
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    Davesnave
    Good luck.

    You're fighting on behalf of a lot of other people too - so fingers crossed you win.
    Originally posted by moneyistooshorttomention
    I would think every case is judged on its merits. By the sound of it, there's no doubt that a duty of care exists, but that has to be tempered by circumstances.

    If a small quantity of JKW existed in a remote corner of a 1/4 acre garden, and the survey took place in January, that would be a different scenario from the one described, probably with a different outcome.
    'A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never sit in.'
    • sevenhills
    • By sevenhills 7th Jan 18, 6:51 PM
    • 922 Posts
    • 339 Thanks
    sevenhills
    I instructed a Homebuyers report. The 2nd tier of the 3 reports, the cost was just shy of £450.00. This report was undertaken November a month where Knotweed doesnt grow and is in it's dead state.
    Originally posted by 43429525
    Japanese knotweed growth is usually at its most prolific from April to October, but mild winters and warm damp summers in recent years have seen the growing season extended. - Google

    Is it dead by November?

    • Lolly88
    • By Lolly88 7th Jan 18, 6:55 PM
    • 269 Posts
    • 781 Thanks
    Lolly88
    Good luck OP, I hope you get a good outcome.
    House Fund - £32104.67
    Currently buying a house
    • daveyjp
    • By daveyjp 7th Jan 18, 7:26 PM
    • 7,322 Posts
    • 5,772 Thanks
    daveyjp
    Japanese knotweed growth is usually at its most prolific from April to October, but mild winters and warm damp summers in recent years have seen the growing season extended. - Google

    Is it dead by November?
    Originally posted by sevenhills
    By the end of November it is dead above ground.

    Growing season generally extends from the beginning of the growing cycle i.e. it can start appearing earlier than the usual time of April if the winter is particularly mild.

    However as soon as the shorter days arrives it flowers and starts dying back above ground. By October it is dying back, by the end of November the stalks will be brown. They dry out over the next growing season.
    Last edited by daveyjp; 07-01-2018 at 7:31 PM.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 7th Jan 18, 7:35 PM
    • 6,784 Posts
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    davidmcn
    You're fighting on behalf of a lot of other people too
    Originally posted by moneyistooshorttomention
    No they're not, they're fighting their own case. It's not going to set some sort of precedent.
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 8th Jan 18, 8:07 AM
    • 14,842 Posts
    • 41,032 Thanks
    moneyistooshorttomention
    No they're not, they're fighting their own case. It's not going to set some sort of precedent.
    Originally posted by davidmcn
    I wouldnt be so sure on that.

    It only takes a few people to win against surveyors and the like that should report JK and don't before surveyors start "policing themselves" and making rather more certain as to just whether there is JK there or no. This must be pretty frequent - and I've got a friend that had a survey on their home and the surveyor didnt mention it - and they've found it's there (quite a sizeable amount of it too).

    I wouldnt rule it out either that there might be some legal comeback at some point - if enough people complain.

    At the very least - whenever a householder reports back to the rest of us that they've taken on anyone who "shoulda said - but didnt" (whoever that person is - surveyor/the vendor/whoever) = it gives the rest of us confidence to "fight back" if it happens to us.
    Last edited by moneyistooshorttomention; 08-01-2018 at 8:09 AM.
    NOT dancing to anyone else's tune.

    It's the 21st century now....
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 8th Jan 18, 8:56 AM
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    Davesnave
    JK is no different from any other thing that surveyors ought to report on within the remit of their inspection.

    The question is whether it's reasonable to expect them to have
    seen it.

    There are many things an inspection cannot easily reveal, which may later prove a difficulty for the home owner. In view of this, surveyors often hedge their reports with caveats and recommendations for further investigation which do little more than confuse the average person. Whether you think this is a 'good thing' is up to you.

    I know what I think, which is why I do my own surveys with people in the building trade. I also have a realistic outlook, understanding that we won't find everything that's potentially a problem.
    'A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never sit in.'
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 8th Jan 18, 9:15 AM
    • 24,243 Posts
    • 90,822 Thanks
    Davesnave
    By the end of November it is dead above ground.

    Growing season generally extends from the beginning of the growing cycle i.e. it can start appearing earlier than the usual time of April if the winter is particularly mild.

    However as soon as the shorter days arrives it flowers and starts dying back above ground. By October it is dying back, by the end of November the stalks will be brown. They dry out over the next growing season.
    Originally posted by daveyjp
    It's worth pointing out that unless someone actively removes them, the dead stalks are still visible through the winter months, so if the amount growing is substantial, it's possible to provide a tentative ID.

    I say 'tentative' because there are other plants which might look similar in a dormant state.
    'A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never sit in.'
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 8th Jan 18, 12:28 PM
    • 1,082 Posts
    • 775 Thanks
    teneighty
    Just thought I'd update you on where I am with this, first of all I did write to the surveyor before engaging solicitors as they denied responsibility, the reason ive not gone through the Ombudsmen after going through their complaints process is that the damage exceeds the threshold for the Ombudsmen.

    The surveyor had an independent review done themselves and the report confirmed the JKW should have been observed and reported and not overlooked, so now I'm hoping it's just a case of settlement although they have yet to accept they are at fault despite their own independent report.

    first of
    Originally posted by 43429525
    I thought Ombudsmans' limit was something like £25,000. How much knotweed have you got?

    Anyway you can't go to the Ombudsman until the official complaint with the survey company has run it's course.
    Last edited by teneighty; 08-01-2018 at 12:34 PM.
    • sevenhills
    • By sevenhills 8th Jan 18, 6:39 PM
    • 922 Posts
    • 339 Thanks
    sevenhills
    It's worth pointing out that unless someone actively removes them, the dead stalks are still visible through the winter months, so if the amount growing is substantial, it's possible to provide a tentative ID.
    Originally posted by Davesnave
    In winter, when the plant becomes dormant, the leaves die off and the stem remains upright.

    I have never had the pleasure of it in my garden, just what this web site says.

    http://www.japaneseknotweedspecialists.com/faq/

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