A homeowner in London has won a legal case against a chartered surveyor who failed to identify Japanese knotweed during a residential survey.
The case, which concluded in March and is now cited in a press release from a Japanese Knotweed removal firm called Environet UK, says the owner commissioned a chartered surveyor to carry out a Level Three RICS Building Survey of the ground floor flat in Highgate, north London.
The release says the surveyor “found the property to be in excellent condition with very few defects and recommended that the sale proceed.”
However the following year Environet found knotweed to be visibly present in three locations; the firm says the maturity of the plant proved it had been there for more than three years and would have been “easily identifiable” when the survey took place.
The knotweed was removed at a cost of just over £10,000; the owner commenced legal action against the surveyor for negligence, suing for costs and damages including ‘making good’ of the gardens and grounds.
The Judge found in favour of the claimant and awarded him damages and costs, also taking into account diminution of property value.
The owner, Paul Ryb, says: “I would not have gone ahead with the purchase, or at the very least would have renegotiated the price, if I had known it was affected by Japanese knotweed.”
Environet founder Nic Seal says: “Homeowners who instruct a building survey when they buy a property, should be able to trust a professional surveyor to identify Japanese knotweed. This case sends out a strong message that they will be protected by the law if their surveyor fails in his or her duty of care.
“However, if a homeowner makes deliberate attempts to cover or hide knotweed, a surveyor cannot reasonably be expected to dig up the ground. In that case, the buyer may decide to seek damages from the seller for failing to disclose and deliberately concealing the knotweed.”