Missed knotweed infestation costs chartered surveyor £50,000. Published August 2019

August 12, 2019 11:53 am Published by

A firm of chartered surveyors has been ordered to pay damages and costs of £50,000 after missing an infestation of Japanese knotweed.

Property-owner, Paul Ryb, accused Conways Chartered Surveyors of negligence after the plant was found in his garden.

Mr Ryb bought the ground floor flat in Highgate, London for £1.25 million in 2014. Before buying, he had instructed Conways to undertake a RICS level three survey. This includes a comprehensive survey of the property and an inspection of the grounds.

The survey gave the property a clean bill of health. It reported very few defects and said the flat was in excellent condition. Unfortunately, despite the survey, Mr Ryb’s gardener found knotweed growing in the garden the following year.

The infestation was confirmed by specialist removal firm, Environet UK, which found mature knotweed present in three locations in the garden. It said it would have been clearly visible at the time of the survey. Environet removed the plant at a cost of £10,000.

Mr Ryb started a legal action against Conways, accusing the firm of negligence. He was awarded costs and damages of £50,000 by the court for reinstating the garden and diminution of the property’s value.

“I bought the property in good faith following a building survey which gave it a clean bill of health,” said Paul Ryb. “I am relieved to have finally won my case and I hope it gives hope to other homeowners who find themselves in a similar situation, that they may have a legal case for compensation.”

James Burgoyne of Brunel Professions warns that surveyors need to be very careful to check for high risk plants, such as knotweed, when they inspect a property. “The further investigation of the threat represented by Japanese knotweed is very interesting, but clearly the legal position on its presence has not yet changed. As such surveyors can still face claims for negligence if they do not report its presence,” he said. Reports on the cases have been published by PropertyWire, Today’s Conveyancer and Ham&High. Professionalindemnity.com is owned by Brunel Professions, which is a leading professional indemnity insurance broker in the UK. Click here to get a quote or call 0345 450 1074 to speak to a broker.

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This post was written by James Burgoyne

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