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Overgrown and Untidy Gardens

What is an untidy garden?

We often receive complaints about the condition of gardens, especially if they are unsightly, have accumulation of waste or the residents are concerned that they may be harbouring rats. Everyone must make sure that their homes are kept in an acceptable condition, that any waste is correctly removed and any pests are dealt with efficiently.  

What can the Council can do about an untidy garden?

We can only help if there is clear evidence and those affected are willing to support enforcement action. This may require the person complaining to complete a witness statement and they may need to attend a magistrates court (this can be found in the useful documents section on this page).

We can help you if:

  • The condition of the garden is having a detrimental effect on the community and problems have continued for some time, the Council can use the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014 (Section 43) to require improvements. First of all, a warning letter will be issued and if no change happens a Community Protection Notice can be served. This requires improvement within a set time. If this notice is ignored, a penalty can be issued and the owner/resident can be required to attend court. In some cases the Council can then clear the garden and charge for its costs.
  • A front garden is noticeably in a much poorer condition that others in the area, the owner/resident of the property can be required to improve its condition. These powers are contained within the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (Section 215). The Council can issue a notice and set a deadline for improvement. If no change has been made the Council can clear the garden and charge its costs.
  • It appears that the garden could harbour rodents (rats and mice) powers within the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 allow us to enter the property and place baits or traps and clear any materials encouraging rodents. Again, the Council can recover its costs. Usually we will only take action if residents can show that they have already tried to solve rodent problems themselves, for example by placing baits and traps or arranging for a pest controller to visit their property.

We cannot help you if:

The waste is inert materials such as building rubble which is just unsightly

How to Report an Untidy Garden

You can report an untidy garden to the Council here

We will need to know:

  • if you have previously spoken to your neighbours about this or have complained to us before
  • what problem this is causing for you

Things you can and can't do

When it comes to taking action yourself, there are strict laws on what you are able to do. For example:

  • you must not trespass into another person's garden and remove any rubbish or foliage
  • you are allowed to prune/remove anything that comes over onto your side of the boundary. Be sure to check if there are Tree Preservation Orders on anything you look to remove by following this link – Tree and Hedgerows Preservation

Last updated 24 September 2019

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