EXPERTS are predicting the hottest February day ever this coming week – but the unseasonably warm weather is predicted to boost the growth of invasive Japanese knotweed.
The superfast-growing species was imported to the UK as an ornamental plant, but its roots can undermine walls and foundations, with most insurers denying payouts for damage.
Alamy The unseasonably warm weather is predicted to boost the growth of invasive Japanese knotweed
Many mortgage firms also refuse to lend cash on a home which has knotweed nearby.
Knotweed expert Dr Peter Fitzsimons, of the Property Care Association’s Invasive Weed Control Group, says knotweed usually starts growing from April, but adds: “The climate so far is looking like it will provide the type of conditions for Japanese knotweed to take hold earlier this year.”
So what should you do if you fear knotweed is on your property? Here are the top dos and don’ts.
Seek expert help. Landowners are legally responsible for “controlling and remediating” knotweed infestations and the quicker you deal with it, the less it will have spread.
Team up with neighbours. The plant can spread quickly along several gardens so work together to get rid of it.
Check tools, soil, machinery and other equipment brought on to your property are free of bits of knotweed root. Also clean soil and plant debris from outdoor footwear and vehicles.
If you live in an area known for knotweed, your mortgage firm may insist on a survey. Check with them before selecting a professional.
Cut the plant down and try to cover it up as it will rapidly regrow.
Deny the problem. If you have sold the house, there could be a legal claim against you.
Try to remove the plant and put it in the local authority compost collection. This is breaking the law as composting does not always kill roots.
Panic if you find it on your property. With the right treatment, specialist firms can get rid of it.
Buy of the week
This immaculate three-bed detached home is on High Street in Quinton, Birmingham
THE road name that has proved most popular with buyers is High Street, with 5,050 property transactions in 12 months, research from One 77 Mortgages reveals.
This immaculate three-bed detached home is on High Street in Quinton, Birmingham.
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Deal of the week
The £30 Camden Lamp from iconiclights.co.uk undercuts Aldi’s £49.99 designer copy and can save hundreds on a real designer light
LIGHT up your life with this trendy tripod lamp. The £30 Camden Lamp from iconiclights.co.uk undercuts Aldi’s £49.99 designer copy and can save hundreds on a real designer light.
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Four-bed Doncaster house on sale for £15,000 – but it looks like a ‘war zone’ inside
Judge Rinder — The Sun’s legal expert
I adopted a cat from a pet charity and now the original owner says they don’t want to give her up
Getty – Contributor Our Sun reader is in a tricky situation over her beloved cat
Q — RECENTLY, I adopted a cat from a well-known rescue centre. She came complete with a microchip. Two weeks later, I received a letter from a microchip company saying the owner did not want to relinquish ownership of the cat.
I went back to the charity who said that it had found the chip and tried for seven days to contact the owner but with no luck. I adopted her six weeks later.
The centre then sent the chip number to get me registered as the new owner. This prompted the first response from the original owner.
This was about three weeks ago and, so far, the original owner has not contacted the charity about getting her back. Where in law do both I and the original owner stand? Janet, Luton
A — This is a bit of a legal mess I’m afraid. It seems to me that seven days is a reasonable amount of time for the original owners to have responded to the charity. Even if they were away or had changed their details, these people failed to contact the charity to reclaim the cat for (by now), over two months.
There is no clearly prescribed law setting out when an animal charity is entitled to adopt a lost pet but, in this situation, it seems to me that you are, in all likelihood, legally entitled to treat the cat as yours.
I would write to the charity asking it to forward your email on to the original owners making clear that you believe that the cat is legally yours and that, in the event the original owners wish to claim her, you invite them to make representations as to why they believe that you have obtained the cat unlawfully. I suspect this will solve the issue.
Getty – Contributor Our consumer champions tackle arguments with the neighbours – including ones about fences
Q — LAST year my neighbour told me he had plans to put up a new fence. I said I did not want the fence to be any higher than it already was as it would block out the sun on half of my garden and we would no longer be able to grow vegetables.
But the finished fence is very high – more than 6ft. It makes our garden very dark. We cannot sit out there in the summer and it’s quite impossible to grow anything.
Is there anything we can do? James, Kent
A — The law is not especially helpful to you in this case because it appears that the height of the fence your neighbour has built is within the planning rules. Although your neighbour must not cause a nuisance to your property (such as leaving your home in the dark) I doubt this applies to your veg patch.
Given that this is a shared fence I would – despite the agreement – offer to contribute something to having the height reduced.
Despite your verbal agreement you don’t have an enforceable contract in law, so I would strongly urge you to do all you can to resolve this with your neighbour with as little conflict as possible.
If you can’t sort it out then your best bet is legal mediation.
Dead ringerQ — I TOOK a ring to a jeweller to have a stone replaced. The piece had great sentimental value and was at least 90 years old. I was told the work would cost £120 but the ring got lost in transit to the workshop. The jeweller told me I could have one made as near to the description as possible, up to a value of £150. I believe mine was worth more but I never had it valued. June, Telford, Shrops
A — When the jeweller took your ring, it had a legal obligation to take care of it. The jeweller must have had it valued to be sure its insurer covered it. It may have a written note of that valuation, which you are entitled to see.
You need to prove the ring was worth more than £150, with evidence proving the quality and size of the stone and the metal used. Then get an independent valuation as a basis for negotiation.
If the ring was worth what the jeweller suggests, that is all you are entitled to (despite the sentimental value). But I sense the firm may be trying it on.Get as much information as possible about the ring and seek advice from a decent jeweller, then reply to this one with a counter-demand.
If the firm refuses, make it clear you will take the matter to court.
Judge Rinder regrets he cannot answer questions personally. Answers intended as general guidance. They do not constitute legal advice and are not a substitute for obtaining independent legal advice.
MUM-UMENTAL ‘Savage’ Poundland Mother’s Day cards spotted by shoppers SNORE OFF Aldi’s sell-out £6 anti-snore pillow is back in stores this weekend HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT Asda starts selling huge custard cream biscuit CAKE for £8 COINING IT IN The rarest and most valuable British coins – is your change worth £7,200? FRI-YAY The Monday May Day Bank Holiday could be moved to a Friday next year AISLE HAVE THAT Special code that gets you 30% off at Sainsbury’s when you spend £60 online
Mel Hunter — Reader’s Champion fighting for your rights
I’m steaming mad over iron
Getty – Contributor We share tips over your consumer rights including the purchase of an iron (stock image)
Q — I BOUGHT a steam iron station from Lidl with an anti-calc cartridge to protect it from limescale.
The cartridge needs to be replaced when full and I have tried many times to buy this item at Lidl but it is never in stock.
The iron cost £59.99 and cannot be properly used until I get the replacement part.
I was told it should be in stock sometime in 2019, which isn’t satisfactory, but I can’t get any further answers. Catherine Docherty, Lanarks
A — I was sure your case would be straightforward to iron out. You had a receipt and had asked for the replacement. Neither Lidl nor the German company it directed you to for warranty issues produced this.
In my dealings with Lidl over several weeks, no indication was given that it would be able to supply the missing part in the near future. As such, your year-old iron was unfit for purpose. Lidl therefore owed you a refund and I told them so.
Finally, Lidl agreed, paying you back the £60 for the iron plus a coupon to use in store.
Q — NEARLY a year ago, I used a PPI firm to get Capital One to agree to a payment due to my late husband. Unfortunately the cheque I got was in his name, so I can’t cash it.
I sent the company his death certificate and our marriage certificate, as requested, but still nothing has been done. Margaret Carmichael, Dumfries & Galloway
A — With neither the PPI firm that you were paying a huge commission to, nor Capital One helping you with this, you called on me.
I asked Capital One to look into your case again and it sprang into action, sending a cheque made out to you for nearly £600. You were delighted.
Alamy A Ryanair representative confirmed that our friends were entitled to get the £80 refund
Q — LAST July I made two separate bookings with Ryanair to travel from Birmingham to Dublin – one for my own family and the other for friends.
Before our trip, Ryanair changed its baggage policy. Initially it said we’d all have to pay extra for our bags, later agreeing by email that, as we had booked prior to the changes, there would be no additional charge.
Our friends travelled the day after my family, on the first day of the new baggage charges, and had to pay £80.
On our return trip all of our bags were checked in and no one had to pay any more.
A Ryanair representative confirmed that our friends were entitled to get the £80 refunded. She said it would be very simple to resolve. But following complaints, web chats, emails and expensive phone calls, this is proving to be anything but simple. We’ve had no response and no refund. Geraldine McLeish, Birmingham
A — From November 1, 2018, Ryanair brought in a new baggage policy – all passengers had to pay to take anything but a small handbag on board.
The budget airline agreed to allow you and those you booked for to take a 10kg bag each, free of charge. This backfired for your friends, but a refund seemed impossible.
The day before I contacted the airline, Ryanair washed its hands of your complaint. But three days later – with me on its case – it changed its stance.
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