The Home Office has published guidance in relation to the use of anti-social behaviour powers in connection with landowners who fail to deal with Japanese knotweed at their properties which adversely affects neighbouring land.

Japanese knotweed is a pernicious invasive plant which can often cause damage to properties. The government’s guidance in relation to Japanese knotweed confirms a property owner’s legal obligations where there are invasive plants present. Whilst a property owner is not obliged to remove or treat invasive plants, they must not:

  • allow invasive plants to spread onto adjoining land, or
  • plant/encourage the spread of invasive plants outside of the property.

Where it may be necessary to invoke the anti-social behaviour powers, the first stage will be to serve a written warning on the property owner. This will be followed by a Community Protection Notice. The Home Office guidance confirms that under section 43 Crime and Policing Act 2014 anti social behaviour”powers, the police or local authority have the power to serve a Community Protection Notice on any individual/organisation where the individual is acting unreasonably, or persistently/continually acting in a way which has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the local area.

The Community Protection Notice would detail any remedial action required, and breach of any requirement of the Notice would be a criminal offence. Where a mortgagee in possession is notified that there is Japanese knotweed at a property it has taken into possession and which is impacting any adjoining property, remedial actions must be taken in order to avoid any breach of the landowner’s legal obligations.