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Property owners need to beware of invasive bamboo

Invasive bamboo is becoming a problem for homeowners, including many buy-to-let landlords, many of which may not realise that most species are invasive if left unchecked. 

Environet UK warns that some varieties can spread up to 30ft if left unchecked and can quickly encroach onto neighbouring properties resulting in disputes and costly legal bills. 

Easy to grow, hardy and tolerating most soil types, bamboo has grown in popularity among UK gardeners in recent years, particularly favoured in urban areas for its screening qualities, creating privacy in overlooked gardens. 

However, bamboo can also be highly invasive and spread out of control if not monitored properly.  

There are currently no lending restrictions relating to bamboo and sellers are under no obligation to tell potential buyers if the plant has posed a problem, yet it can cause damage to property, which could be bad news for your investment. 

Mark Montaldo, Solicitor and Director at CEL Solicitors which deals with legal claims relating to invasive plants, commented: “Bamboo is a growing problem, as unlike Japanese knotweed it’s not officially classed as an invasive species and there are currently no restrictions on planting it.  Consequently, there has been an increase in the number of neighbourly disputes following encroachment of bamboo across garden borders.

“I have acted for a number of clients who have taken legal action against their neighbour for nuisance caused as a result of a bamboo infestation where the offending party has had to pay significant removal costs and legal bills.

“Due to the increase in nuisance claims it is something that the mortgage companies are closely looking at and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them imposing lending restrictions on properties that suffer with bamboo infestations in the future.”

There are several varieties of bamboo which can be categorised into the ‘clumping’ and ‘running’ types, all of which have large underground root and rhizome systems. 

The running types in particular cause headaches for homeowners, sending out long lateral rhizomes up to 30ft from the main plant, which has the potential to be more damaging to property than Japanese knotweed and has similar abilities to push through brickwork, drains, cavity walls, patios and exploit cracks  or weaknesses in concrete. 

Nic Seal, managing director of Environet UK, which deals with all types of invasive plants including Japanese knotweed and bamboo, said: "Bamboo is a vigorous and fast-growing plant that has been steadily growing in popularity in the UK over the last decade or so, but it’s very difficult to contain and virtually impossible to kill with herbicide. It’s commonly sold at nurseries and garden centres across the country with little or no warnings about its invasive nature or sensible advice about how to contain it.

"Estate agents and surveyors should look out for signs of the plant growing out of control and alert potential buyers to the problem, which usually requires professional excavation.”

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