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A homeowner who tried to remortgage his £400,000 property had his application refused because of Japanese knotweed in his garden.

Dave Williams, 42, wanted to borrow £83,000 but has been turned down after surveyors found Japanese knotweed in his flower beds. The bamboo-like weed can grow up to 12ft tall and push through concrete and damage buildings and is hard to to eradicate with pesticides.

Mr Williams had applied to remortgage his property through Santander but they rejected him after a house survey was carried out. Officials explained the knotweed posed a risk to the structure of the building, which was now 'unsaleable'. Mr Williams, of St Austell, Cornwall, said: 'I think it's crazy. It is an intensive weed but an element of common sense has got to be applied. If we were infested then fair enough.

'But all I've got is half a dozen sticks of knotweed not two foot out of the ground. That's what incensed me. 'If I had a survey done in the winter I would have been OK because it only comes up in the spring and summer. How can that be? It just makes a farce of it.

'With the housing market in the state it is in, to put this measure in place is beyond belief.'

Knotweed is now so prevalent experts say there is not a single six mile square area in the UK where it is not found – except the Orkney Isles. The plant usually grows in poor, rocky soils on the sloped of volcanoes in Japan and is now immune to most natural pests and diseases. It has become highly successful in the UK and is capable of regenerating from just a tiny fragment and cutting it back often makes it grow back thicker.

Mr Williams, who runs a carpentry firm, wanted to borrow 20 per cent of the house value but mortgage provider Santander has refused. A surveyor report stated that the property 'is not considered suitable for mortgages purposes as Japanese knotweed was discovered within the curtilage of the property.' In a letter to the family, Santander wrote: 'The valuer has said that the property is not readily saleable for owner occupation.'

A Santander spokesman said: 'Due to the invasive and destructive nature of the Japanese knotweed, if the weed is found in close proximity to the property we would need to assess whether or not a mortgage could be accepted.
'In such circumstances, decisions for these applications would be made on a case by case basis. However if the weed poses a threat to the structure of the building the mortgage application would not be accepted.'

Santander is among a string of high street lenders – including Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays – who are now refusing mortgage applicants if knotweed is deemed to threaten a property.

A spokesman for Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Lloyds TSB, HBOS, Cheltenham and Gloucester, said the extent of the problem could affect the price of a property. Barclays Bank, which also own the Woolwich, also said they would refuse an application unless specialists were brought in to deal with the knotweed. There have also been reports that some banks have even refused to lend on properties where the plant has been found growing – next door.

It is thought that getting rid of the weed costs up to £100 for every square foot of the plant. The cost of trying to eradicate the plant in the UK has been estimated to be more than £1.25 billion. A spokesman for the Royal Horticultural Society said knotweed is a 'nuisance' but not a 'problem' He said: 'I've never heard of anything like this before. Japanese knotweed might be a problem on land being developed but in an ordinary domestic residence it is more of a nuisance than a real problem.'

Courtesy of Daily Telegraph


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Japanese knotweed survey, management, control, eradication & land remediation relief.
Areas include Staffordshire, Cheshire, West Midlands, Manchester, Birmingham & Stoke On Trent.

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