The Weed is fast growing and very difficult to eradicate from land once it has taken hold - and the reason why this is a problem is not just because it crowds out your bedding plants or development landscaping, but because it causes damage to buildings and other man made structures or surfaces.
Harm that can be caused by the Weed
The root system of the Weed (which can go down as far as three metres and stretch sideways for up to seven metres), and the Weed itself, can each force their way through cracks or openings in building foundations or surfaces such as paving or tarmac, in addition to soft landscaping and flower beds. They can also block drainage systems and damage sewers and other underground pipes. Sometimes they can even work their way up cavity walls in buildings.
Removal is difficult, expensive and might not be wholly within your control
On top of having to pay to repair any damage already caused by the Weed, property owners have to fund the cost of getting rid of the Weed from their land. Unless every trace of it, including the whole root system, is eradicated, there is a high risk that the plant will return. And you can't do this yourself - don't even think about digging it out with your spade. Disturbance of the Weed by an unskilled person is likely to result in more spread of it and possibly a breach of the rules governing not spreading it beyond your own property.
You need to use one of the specialist companies that deal with removal of the Weed. Removed material is treated as controlled waste and has to be disposed of in compliance with strict rules.
The other potential difficulty is that if the Weed is also on your neighbour's land, then removing it from your property will only be a short term solution, as it is likely very rapidly to regrow from next door. If your neighbour isn't prepared to pay to remove it from his site, then you might have grounds of action against him under the law of nuisance. However, to succeed with a claim you'd probably have to wait until the Weed started to invade again from your neighbour's land - when what you really want is to stop that happening in the first place.
In theory, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has the power to impose a species control order on your neighbour, but it would only do this as a last resort if a voluntary arrangement can't be achieved. I say in theory because it could take a long time to get any of this done, as controlling the urban environment is not SEPA's priority; it is chiefly concerned with trying to stop the Weed from being released into the wild (basically the countryside).
If you are about to buy a property, what do you need to consider?
Most contracts for the purchase of land for the construction of a new development will contain various pre-conditions regarding things about which the buyer has to be satisfied before he is legally committed to purchase. One of those pre-conditions is usually a site investigation - and the contract wording will sometimes, although not always, specifically refer to the presence of the Weed as being an adverse matter on the site investigation report.
So if you are buying land for development, you are unlikely to be at risk of unknowingly acquiring a property on which the Weed is growing or which has the Weed on nearby land - as your site investigation should have mentioned it. If you have decided to proceed regardless, then at least you are going in with your eyes open. Many development contracts will allow the buyer (even before it has paid the price and taken entry) to go on site to spray the Weed or do other things to stop it spreading or to remove it.
Most contracts for the purchase of existing buildings (whether or not with land attached) will either be subject to a satisfactory survey or will not have been entered into by the buyer until he has seen and been happy with a survey report.
Surveyors should be wise to the Weed
All surveyors should now be alert to the damage that can be caused by the Weed and the possible adverse impact that its presence (on, or near, the property) can have on the value of a property. However, perhaps understandably, different surveyors have different views about just how badly a particular infestation might have affected a property or how much of a drop in value results from the presence of the Weed.
Recent guidance from the RICS to their surveyor members should help to standardise the reporting on the risk of the Weed so that there is more certainty among all parties (whether sellers, buyers, tenants or funders) as to whether it is a real issue for that property or not - and if it is, what's the monetary value of that issue.
Keep your lender in mind
Lastly, buyers always need to consider whether the presence of the Weed will stop them being able to get funding to buy the property. Many lenders won't proceed if there is Weed on a property and some won't lend if it's currently on neighbouring land (even if it hasn't yet invaded the property being purchased). So the attitude of the lender must also be taken in to account when a buyer is reviewing his survey report.