Home buyer wins case against surveyor who failed to spot Japanese knotweed

A home buyer has been awarded £50,000 compensation plus costs of up to £90,000 after a surveyor failed to spot Japanese knotweed growing in the garden of the £1.2m property.

The buyer, Paul Ryb, ordered the highest level of survey – a Level Three Building Survey – for the family home because he is visually impaired and could not carry out the inspection himself.

Ryb, a former financier who lost his central vision in 2007, hired Conways Chartered Surveyors in London in 2014.

He was told that the property, a ground floor flat in Highgate, was in “excellent condition both internally and externally”.

The following year his gardener spotted the knotweed, prompting a long and costly battle to eradicate it.

A specialist firm, Environet, was called in and found Japanese knotweed to be visibly present in three locations.

The maturity of the plant proved it had been there for over three years, and would have been in leaf and flowering in early September when the survey took place.

Despite the knotweed and contaminated soil being removed by mechanical diggers, it returned in 2017 and 2018.

Ryb sued the surveyors and in March won £50,000 for the damage and disruption. The case has been back in the courts, where he has now also won up to £90,000 to cover his legal costs.

He argued that if he had kn