Homeowner Wins Damages After Surveyor Fails to Spot Japanese Knotweed

One good reason for taking advice from independent professionals is that, if they let you down, there is a clear route to compensation. The point was proved by a case in which a homeowner won substantial damages after a surveyor failed to notice Japanese knotweed growing in the garden of his flat before he bought it.

The man was severely visually impaired and, partly due to that disability, engaged a firm of surveyors to carry out a detailed investigation of the property’s condition. He went ahead with the purchase after the experienced surveyor who performed the inspection declared the property in excellent condition, both inside and out.

His gardener, however, later spotted the pernicious weed – notorious for its rampant growing habits and ability to undermine even the most solid structures – growing in his garden. A long and costly battle to eradicate the plant followed, with specialists having to use mechanical diggers to remove contaminated soil.

In upholding the man’s professional negligence claim against the firm, a judge was amply satisfied that the plant was visibly present and growing in his garden at the time of the survey. The inspection fell short of the standard to be expected of a reasonably competent surveyor. The man was awarded £50,000 in damages.