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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25484
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Can I sue the previous owner if

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Can I sue the previous owner if she failed to declare she had Japanese knotweed in her garden. She told us she had chopped down bamboo and covered with fabric suppressor and pebbles, but Japanese knot wood now sprouting up. She obviously knew, also stated on h
Homebuyer documents there was no Japanese knot wood. Neighbour now tells me it was like a jungle last summer. We completed in January 2015 and first viewed the house November 2014, so no sign of it then to us or surveyor.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience. Do you know if the neighbour can help with any information that dhe was aware that the plant was japanese knotweed please - e.g did she employ any contractors or discuss the matter with the neighbour for example?You say she claimed the plant was bamboo? Has se confirmed this anywher in writing?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The neighbour only knows the plot looked like a jungle. No she didn't confirm in writing but she denied any presence of knotweed on the homebuyers form. We have only been in3 months so I am sure she knew it was there.
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. The very simplistic answer to your question is you can sue her and claim the cost of clearance which can be significant as you will no doubt know. However you will need to undertake an information gathering exercise as it is not going to be sufficient to simply say that you are sure she knew. A court will require you to prove that she knew. Having said that the standard of proof is not overly high - it is on the balance of probability which is not overly difficult to achieve but you will need to amass evidence. Japanese knowtweek looks nothing like bamboo which is why it would have been helpful if she had written down that she had cleared bamboo as this would be a fairly obvious lie or at best a negligent misrepresentation either of which could have been sufficient to pursue a legal claim. As it is all you have is a representation that there was no knotweed present. Accordingly you will need to see if you can obtain a statement from the neighbour as to the extent of the problem and ideally that the neighbour recognised the plant as being knotweed and discussed the matter with your seller. Better still would be if you could ascertain whether she contacted any contractors regarding the problem or used a gardener which would confirm she likely knew the plant was knotweed. With the statement of the neighbour and if possible any other neighbour and evidence from a sepcialist contractor as to the likely previous extent of the problem, you should have the basis of enough evidence to consider a claim on the grounds of either negligent or wilful misrepresentation on the part of the seller. On this basis as above you can look to seek to recover the cost of clearing and treating the site for which you will require a quote (the same contracot that provides the above report could provide a quote for clearance so you know the costs involved. If you can obtain the above evidence you can contact the buyer or the buyers solicitor to flag the issue and ask that the buyer makes proposals as to settlement failing which warn that you will consider a claim in the county court for misrepresentation and damages as above. The simplest way to issue proceedings is using the following link:https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome I hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I understood the onus was on the seller to prove she didn't know. Surely the proof she knew I was in her actions in clearing the site and misrepresentation on the Homebuyers documents?
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
May I ask has she answered "No" or "Not known" to the question about japanese knotwood?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She answered no
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Thanks. In that case she makes your life very easy. She has answered in the negative. All therefore you need to do is show that there is Japanese Knotweed and that is it. Had she answered "not known" the position would have been more difficult because you would have needed to show that she was likely to have been aware when she claims not to have been but because she has given a definitive "no" there is none, you only need show there is (which you can using a contractors report and quote to remove it) and optionally a statement from the neighbour. Accordingly as soon as yu have a basic report from a specialist contractor you will wish to consider contacting her or her solicitors to give her notice that you intend to claim for the cost of site clearance on the grounds of misrepresentation together with any other costs or losses you can point to as a result of the Knotweed. You can put her on notice of the potential claim even before you obtain a contractor report. I hope the above is helpful? Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily? If you could drop me a quick message to let me know I'd be very grateful.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Doesn't giving a definitive no show she was not aware( being devils advocate here)?
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
In plain English and logically you are correct that answering "no" could mean that you are just not aware. However in contract law, answering in the definitive "no" provides that she is confirming there is no knotweed. For this reasons solicitors always should encourage their selling clients to answer "not aware" or "not to knowledge" or "confirmed so far as the seller is aware" because without these qualifications an answer of yes and no are grounds for a claim of misrepresenation by a buyer if it turns out that the confirmation was not correct - even if it genuinely was given innocently (though this is not assumed to be the case).Does this answer all your questions or is there anything else I can help you with or clarify further?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** is worth my while to persuade the case in a civil court if she does not agree to meet the costs?
Can I claim costs including lawyers fees.
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
In the assumption the clearance costs will be significant which they often are it would appear to be worth pursuing. Solicitors costs can only be claimed if the amount claimed is more than £10,000. If less then it would be dealt with in the small claims court which encourages personal litigation so doesn't allow legal fees to be claimed. You can still claim court fees and travel expenses if you attend a hearing though.Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you this is useful information. Can I ask one more thing, I do not wish to contribute to a monthly subscription, but it is not clear that this has been confirmed, can you advise please?
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
I am glad it has been of assistance. I have very limited access to your account but from the limited information I can see it indicates you are not a subscriber so should not be charged further monthly subscription. However with your permission I will ask customer services just to confirm you have not subscribed as they can see all the details for your account.If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you on the above. This will also complete the thread and I can refer it to customer services. You are welcome to return to the thread should you have any follow up questions.
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