AM raises knotweed issue with mortgage companies

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson, Peter Black has written to the Council for MortgageLenders to ask them to review their policy on lending money on properties blighted by Japanese knotweed.

Mr Black wrote after being contacted by a constituent who might lose a potential buyer due to them being refused a mortgage because there is Japanese Knotweed in a field at the rear of his home. In this particular instance the weed has been present since before he bought the property 10 years ago. It has not moved closer to his property and is not spreading. An assessor has adjudged it as level two, the second lowest level of risk on the Council of Mortgage Lender's scale.

"This is not the first time that my constituents have been refused mortgages because of the presence of knotweed on adjacent land," said Mr. Black.. "Given that Swansea and its surrounding area has a large amount of this weed I am concerned that it could potentially lead to a situation where many houses in the area become unsellable because of the policy adopted by mortgage lenders.

"I am particularly worried that mortgage companies might be misinterpreting the PCA code of practice, as it appears to me that the biggest risk centres on new build properties where the ground will have been recently disturbed and where rhizomes may still be present.

"The Royal Horticultural Society state about Japanese knotweed that, "much of its spread is probably via topsoilmovement or construction traffic". In a situation such as that of my constituent where the house has been there for many decades without any recent encroachment of knotweed it seems to me that the level of risk is much smaller.

"I have asked the Council of Mortgage Lenders to look again at their policy and guidance to lenders and to consider exercising a little more leniency with regard to older established properties and their assessment of the risk posed to them by Japanese Knotweed."

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