The TA6 Form (Seller’s Property Information Form) is a general questionnaire for property sellers. This form must be completed by an individual or company when selling a residential property.
Any representation about a property can of course have legal repercussions if the information is intentionally misguiding.
When the Property Information Form (TA6) was revised in 2013, it was drafted to include a question about Japanese Knotweed. Property vendors must disclose the presence of the plant if known.
Japanese Knotweed is labelled as ‘the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant’ (Environment Agency).
Any conveyancer, estate agent, buyer, seller or lender that has ever encountered the presence of Japanese Knotweed will know that it can significantly impede the conveyancing process.
Even the presence knotweed in neighbouring properties has deterred certain lenders, but note this is not something the seller is required to disclose on the Property Information Form. This limits the value of the form in this particular area and buyers may wish to obtain their own knotweed survey.
At question 7.8 the TA6 form states the following:
“Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that can cause damage to property. It can take several years to eradicate.”
It then asks sellers: “Is the property affected by Japanese knotweed?”. The choice of answers a seller can select are ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘not known’.
For the vast majority of sellers, the selected response will be ‘no’. The seller may add a caveat along the lines of: ‘as far as I am aware’ to a response of ‘no’. This may reflect the fact that knotweed can be hard to spot in its early stages and most property owners are not horticultural experts.
However if a seller, based on the best of their knowledge, answers ‘No’, and it subsequently transpires that the plant is present, then the buyer may pursue the seller for compensation.
This response can serve to trigger alarm bells when reviewed by the purchaser’s solicitors. A request, via an enquiry, is likely to be made for further information and perhaps a specialist knotweed survey. The ‘not known’ answer is arguably the most honest for the majority of sellers, but in reality it should serve only to prompt the buyer’s solicitors to probe for further information. The seller may add a caveat along the lines of ‘buyer should rely on their own survey’.
If the answer is yes the form asks the seller to state whether there is a Japanese Knotweed management plan (KMP) in place and if so to supply a copy. From a conveyancing perspective this is clearly the most straightforward response. A solicitor representing the buyer should ensure that the KMP is adequate. A specialist knotweed contractor will be required to treat the affected areas and the long term management plan should clearly detail the record of works carried out and to be carried out.
Sellers should provide this to the purchaser’s solicitors, who in turn should enquire to see if it can be transferred to their client. The KMP must be fit for purpose and provide a long term guarantee and for some lenders may need to be backed by insurance. The presence of Knotweed does not automatically prevent a mortgage from being obtained, with a case by case basis approach often adopted. Evidence of a suitable Knotweed Management Plan is paramount.
Japanese Knotweed Ltd is the UK’s largest Japanese Knotweed eradication company. A PCA accredited company with offices in different parts of the UK to provide clients a local presence. To enquire about a survey and KMP please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0333 2414 413.