Posted in General Legal Tips on 20 July 2017

It is one thing to be unfortunate enough to have a bad neighbour.  It is another thing when that bad neighbour is the City or County Council. These are the bodies we entrust to keep us safe.

By now everyone has heard of the devastations being caused by the Japanese Knotweed infestation.  This dangerous plant can cause absolute devastation to concrete foundations, roads, paving, retaining walls and agricultural land.

Once only a tiny portion of this plant infiltrates soil, it can become rampant and out of control.  One of the biggest errors made by people is that they cut the plant.  This can lead to tiny segments becoming airborne and thus greatly increasing the spread of the plant.  The plant can be controlled successfully through the application of appropriate herbicides.

For private landowners, the presence of this plant on their property can mean not only damage to their property and possible devaluation, attempts to eradicate this plant can also lead to expense.  This can be quite onerous on private individuals.

What is not acceptable is the presence of this plant on Council and City property.  Cork County Council have actually issued a leaflet on the control and management of invasive plant species, which is specifically targeted at Japanese Knotweed.  It is frustrating to then read that people’s homes are in danger because of the presence of this plant on City and Council property.  It is in fact an offence to allow dispersal or cause the spread of Japanese Knotweed.

Should a person’s property be at risk of damage from Japanese Knotweed, they should immediately write to the owner and occupier of the land which possesses the plant notifying them that they will be held responsible for any damage which may arise to their property, as a result of the spread of the plant.

Should damage be caused, there is an arguable case that the person on whose land there is Japanese Knotweed is liable for the damage caused, as it was foreseeable that without eradication measures this plant could cause damage to the neighbouring land.  

There was also an argument that failing to eradicate such plant, could amount to nuisance.  Nuisance is an act or omission which amounts to an unreasonable interference with, or disturbance of, or annoyance to, another person in the exercise of his rights associates with the enjoyment of his property. It is clear that failing to deal with Japanese Knotweed, when it is on your property, particularly when the offending property owners are a County or City Councils, amounts to an unreasonable interference, disturbance of, or annoyance to, a neighbouring property.

Jody Cantillon is an Associate Solicitor in the Litigation Department at Cantillons Solicitors, Cork. Jody advises and represents clients in relation all aspects of Litigation including Property Disputes, Personal Injuries Litigation, Constitutional Law, Employment Law, Defamation Law and Data Protection.

Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or [email protected] if you would like more information.

* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage

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