Overgrown or unsightly properties can be both a nuisance and a danger to neighbors and the community. All residents have a responsibility to keep their properties neat and tidy and to improve the appearance of our community, remove harborage for vermin to breed and reduce health risks. A well-maintained property is also an effective crime prevention tool because properties that are not being cared for give criminals the impression that the property is unattended and might be an easy target.
Local laws regarding property maintenance
Overgrown vegetation and storage of materials in and around your property is regulated under the Ipswich City Council Local Law No. 8 (Nuisances and Community Health and Safety) 2013. It is the responsibility of property owners to make sure that a property is maintained in an acceptable condition.
Overgrown vegetation is visible from outside the property and is known to cause a significantly lower visual standard in the area, due to the visible lack of maintenance. Overgrown grass also has the potential to harbour or attract vermin and reptiles and may also pose a fire risk - if you see any potential fire hazards on a neighbouring property contact Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
Unsightly properties can occur when objects or materials that are brought onto or allowed to accumulate on any vacant land, residential or commercial property, seriously affecting the aesthetic of the property. Materials generally classified as unsightly include discarded or disused machinery, second-hand materials and similar objects, as well as derelict vehicles, old whitegoods, building materials and household waste.
Responsibilities of residents
Keeping your yard free from overgrown vegetation and objects makes our residential streets more visually appealing for everyone - here are a few tips on good ways to keep order in your home:
- Store goods out of sight in your garage and shed.
- Ensure you put your rubbish out for collection each week.
- Store objects and materials out of view and neatly stacked to ensure they do not harbour vermin.
- Dispose old vehicles and machinery – some metal recyclers may collect and remove them free of charge.
- Cut or slash your grass regularly (whether dead or alive) and dispose of it responsibly in a compost pile or bin or appropriate green bin.
- Grass on larger properties (over 10,000m2) is not expected to be maintained to the extent of a lawn in an urban area.
- Organise for someone to come and maintain your yard if you are going away for a period of time.
Waste disposal methods
- Any transfer station
- Private transfer stations or tip
- Hire a skip bin and clear your entire garden in one go.
- If possible, compost any organic waste and use to feed your garden.
- Order a green waste bin for all grass/foliage cuttings and waste.
- Advertise functional items on websites like Gumtree or Facebook sales pages.
Hoarding and squalor
Hoarding is the persistent accumulation of - and lack of ability to relinquish - large numbers of objects or living animals, resulting in extreme clutter in or around a premises. Squalor is an unsanitary living environment which may occur as a result of extreme environmental neglect and is commonly (but not always) associated with hoarding behaviour. Council recognises that living in conditions of squalor and hoarding can have significant impacts on the people living in the affected home and also on the neighbouring residents and properties. There is increasing recognition that there can be a range of complex reasons for this behaviour, such as mental health issues, poverty or physical injury and so such issues often take a long time to resolve. Council's environmental health team has developed a factsheet for dealing with hoarding and squalor issues (under More Information below).
Council's approach to hoarding and squalor issues
- When Council's attention has been drawn to a property where hoarding or squalor is evident, Council officers will first conduct a site visit to determine compliance with the Public Health Act 2005.
- If public health risks are identified - and provided that the owner or responsible person is willing to provide their written consent - a referral of their case may be made to a support service and member of the Ipswich and West Moreton Hoarding and Squalor Action Group
- Council may issue a public health order requiring remedial works to be completed within a specified timeframe - if works are not completed within this timeframe then Council may take further action.
Should you experience issues with overgrown or unsightly properties, hoarding or squalor, there are various avenues of action that can be considered:
- Dispute resolution: In most cases the best way to resolve an overgrown or unsightly property issue is through polite and productive communication between yourself and the property owner. If you haven’t already spoken with the resident about the overgrown or unsightly property, we strongly recommend you try this approach first. Council has also developed a letterbox-drop form which you may wish to use - simply print out the form, fill in your details (if you wish) and place it in your neighbor’s letterbox (under More Information below).
- Dispute Resolution Centres: If the dispute is not resolved, you can contact the appropriate Queensland Government Dispute Resolution Centre regarding their non-legal mediation service - they may be able to assist without the need for expensive legal proceedings. For more information visit the Queensland Government Dispute Resolution Centre or phone their tollfree number on 1800 017 288.
- Lodge a complaint with Council: should you wish to lodge a complaint regarding overgrown or unsightly properties visit Council's Complaints webpage and follow Council's complaints process.
Overgrown and Unsightly Property Neighbour Handout (PDF, 864.6 KB)
Hoarding and Squalor Factsheet (PDF, 1.2 MB)