Property Information Form (TA6) forms part of the contract documentation when you are selling your home. It requires the seller to disclose information about the property. The 3rd Edition of the TA6 form came into effect a few weeks ago and now includes new questions on Japanese knotweed.
The form states that: “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?, with the answer ‘Yes, No or Not Known’ required.
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. Therefore if providing a ‘No’ answer a seller may be advised to add a caveat that, no guarantee is given in this regard and that the buyer should instruct a suitable Home Buyers Survey to be absolutely sure.
If the answer is ‘Not Known’ the buyer would be strongly advised to take out a RICS Home Buyers Survey or even a Specialist Knotweed Survey to provide an accurate answer to this question. RICS or Specialist Knotweed Surveyors are trained to identify the plant. Moreover, if they fail to do so, surveyors face the very real risk of a negligence claim.
If the answer is ‘Yes’ it would be assumed that the seller has instructed a Specialist Knotweed Contractor (such as Japanese Knotweed Ltd) to provide remedial treatment and provision of a guarantee. If this is not the case a Specialist Knotweed Survey will be required by the buyer, which will document the problem, the property risk category presented and propose suitable remedial action.
Japanese knotweed is NOT to be overlooked when selling or buying a house, and buyers are always best advised to commission a survey.