Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, section 43

The headache of Japanese Knotweed continues to get worse, with the advent of new powers and sanctions under the above Act.

Among the range of measures introduced by the Act to shake up the available remedies for anti-social behaviour are Community Protection Notices. The scope of this measure is extremely wide, enabling a notice to be served in respect of any unreasonable conduct (including inaction) which is having a detrimental effect, of a persistent or continuing nature, on the quality of life of those in the locality. There is no express mention in the Act of Japanese Knotweed, or any other invasive weed, but the Home Office has published guidance making it clear that the power is expected to be used in relation to it.

A Community Protection Notice can be issued by the local council or the police, and can be used against organisations as well as individuals. This action may be prompted by affected individuals, if the Community Trigger threshold under the Act is met, so as to require local agencies to review the situation and consider what actions are available to them.

A written warning would be the first step, followed if necessary by a Community Protection Notice, which would set out the required action. Breach of any requirement of the notice, without reasonable excuse, would be an offence, punishable (as regards companies) by a fine of up to £20,000.

Press commentary has understandably focused on the prospect of homeowners facing penalties for failing to control Japanese Knotweed. However, the procedure is not restricted to residential premises, nor is it only available against the owner of a property, if there is some other body which can reasonably be held accountable: a mortgagee in possession, perhaps, or the management company of a residential block.