Invasion of knotweed and court fight over £1.6m home

·2-min read
The Kensal Green home is claimed to have lost value due to knotweed  (Champion News)
The Kensal Green home is claimed to have lost value due to knotweed (Champion News)

A businessman and his partner are locked in a bitter fight with their neighbours over “rampant” Japanese knotweed they say has infested the foundations of their £1.6 million house.

Christopher Clarke believes his home in Kensal Green has been devalued by 15 per cent thanks to the notoriously invasive plant getting out of control on his neighbours’ land, claiming it is “leaning over” his fence so thickly that he could not open his back door properly.

Japanese knotweed can cause severe damage to properties if left unchecked, making it hard to secure a mortgage or sell a home, and is extremely difficult to get rid of once established. Cuttings are treated as licensed hazardous waste due to its ability to start a new infestation from just small offcuts.

Christopher Clarke and Louise Kaye (Champion News)
Christopher Clarke and Louise Kaye (Champion News)

Mr Clarke, who runs cycling charity Club Peloton and bike business Cycle-to Events, and his partner Louise Kaye claim knotweed roots known as rhizomes have tunnelled into their garden and the footings of their Victorian home from the neighbouring land, owned by Talha and Minha Abbasi.

They are now suing for up to £250,000 in compensation, claiming the Abbasis are to blame for the knotweed which they say has devalued the property which was bought in 2014 for £1,159,999.

Financial consultant Mrs Abbasi and her husband deny blame for the problems, saying the knotweed must have been an existing issue when they bought the strip of land in 2016 for £166,000.

Talha and Minha Abbasi (Champion News)
Talha and Minha Abbasi (Champion News)

Mr Clarke and Ms Kaye’s barrister, Andy Creer, told Central London county court they have been “unable to obtain mortgage finance on the property because of the knotweed on the adjoining land because it was not subject to a knotweed management plan”.

The couple say they discovered a knotweed infestation themselves when they moved in but had it professionally eradicated in 2015. Two years later, they say an expert told them “knotweed on the adjoining land poses an imminent threat of damage” to their home. They have accused the Abbasis of not taking the problem seriously. As well as damages, Mr Clarke and Ms Kaye are seeking an injunction to “compel treatment of the knotweed on the defendants’ land, alternatively to prevent further encroachment onto the claimants’ land”.

Mr Creer said the Abbasis gave assurances in 2016 and 2017 after being warned of the dangers, but then “took no steps to treat the knotweed and it continued to present a threat”.

“It comes through the door when you open the door,” Mr Clarke said from the witness box.

Tom Carter, for the Abbasis, argued there was evidence from knotweed experts that it had encroached from the their land in 2012 or earlier. “This means that it encroached before the defendants purchased the land,” he said.

Judge Alan Johns is expected to give a ruling in the case at a later date.

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