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Frequently asked questions about overgrown or untidy properties

These frequently asked questions will help community members to identify when Council can assist with an overgrown or untidy property concern.

What is an overgrown or untidy property?

An overgrown or untidy property is a property that appears to be heavily overgrown with long grass and weeds, and has the potential to become a hazard to the adjoining premises.

How do I know if the property is overgrown or untidy?

Ideas about whether a property appears overgrown or untidy can differ from person to person. A property that you might consider untidy may not be a health or safety risk. Council staff can inspect the property to determine if they need to undertake further action.

What are the property owner’s responsibilities?

The maintenance of a property is the owner's responsibility to ensure that it doesn’t provide a place for vermin to live and nest. This means keeping properties free of long grass (up to 10cm) and vegetation, as well as waste. You can contact Council's Waste Services on 02 4474 1024 for further information on waste disposal options.

What are Council’s responsibilities?

If you have a concern about your neighbour's overgrown or untidy property, you should attempt to speak to your neighbour to resolve the issue. Council has limited powers to intervene.

What if I can’t or don’t want to discuss this with my neighbour?

Council can assist and investigate overgrown or untidy property concerns, if required. Council can also provide advice for possible solutions to affected property owners.

Can Council issue a fine to the property owner?

Council has discretionary powers to issue notices and orders under the Local Government Act 1993 if it can identify a threat to public health and safety. This means that Council can order the property owner to remove the overgrown vegetation or waste to make the property safe. The property owner may receive a fine if there is non-compliance with the order. They may also need to pay for any work Council carried out to make the property safe.

How long will this process take?

When Council issues a property owner with an order or notice to maintain their property, it also has to allow the property owner time to take action. Council will issue the property owner with a notice for 21 days and if the owner does not comply, Council will issue an order for a further 21 days. If the property owner continues to not comply, Council will consider taking further legal action.

What if Council doesn’t consider the property overgrown or a health risk?

Where the property is untidy but is not a public health and safety risk, Council will generally not get involved. It is a matter for the property owners to resolve between themselves.

Can I take my own legal action against the property owner?

The Community Justice Centre provides mediation and conflict management services to help people resolve their own disputes. This service is free and confidential.

Further information is available at www.cjc.nsw.gov.au or you can call 1800 990 777 for advice.

What if I think the property is a fire risk?

If you're concerned that the condition of the vegetation on a property poses a fire hazard, please contact the Rural Fire Service on their website at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or call Moruya RFS on 02 4474 2855.

We can help you

If you have an enquiry about an overgrown property, please contact our Rangers: