When nuisance neighbours are mentioned, what comes to mind is bonfires when your washing is on the line, noisy parties and shared drives being blocked. However, the nuisance can come from something other than people.

If the nuisance comes from a plant on your neighbour's land, what can be done about it? This became apparent in a recent legal case.

Mrs Line owned a strip of land next to Mr and Mrs Smith's property, with Japanese knotweed encroaching onto her neighbours' land. Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive plant which can not only cause serious damage to buildings but also to the value of the property.

Despite Mrs Line's efforts to control the spread of the plant, the problem did not go away. The Smiths claimed that the presence of the Japanese knotweed had caused their property to lose 10 per cent of its value (£80,000) and brought a claim in private nuisance. However, they only sought an injunction to compel Mrs Line to address the infestation problem, despite potentially also having a claim for damages for that diminution in value.

Mrs Line argued that:

• There had always been Japanese knotweed on both properties.

• Any encroachment had actually been from the claimants' land onto her retained land.

• She had taken all reasonable steps to control the Japanese knotweed on her property by spraying and burning.

Despite this, the court granted an injunction requiring Mrs Line to eradicate the plant, on the basis that it unduly interfered with a neighbour's comfortable and convenient enjoyment of their land.

Watford landowners can be liable for private nuisance by doing nothing. You should therefore take active steps to manage your land to make sure that such nuisance does not occur.