Overgrown gardens at Empty Properties

Hi

I am looking for advice regarding overgrown gardens  at empty properties. Other than the use  of PODPA notices  has anyone had any success in getting owners to tackle overgrown gardens? Has anyone used CPWs/ CPNs with success or have any other  suggestions of  methods/ legislation to use to tackle these issues?

Thanks

Sarah

Forums: 
Other enforcement

Sarah

If it is just a case of overgrown vegetation the use of Section 4 of the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act (PDPA) may not be appropriate.  However, overgrown vegetation can often hide a lot of accumulations, so in cases where there are accumulations under the vegetation, I would use PDPA and if carrying out work in default, I would cut down and remove a lot of the vegetation 'to facilitate the safe removal of the waste'.  In some cases, where there is evidence of rodent activity but no clear evidence of harbourage, the removal of the vegetation 'to identify nesting areas on the property' may be necessary.  [There is always the option of the Ways and Means of the Empty Homes Officer Act 2021, where appropriate in these cases].

If there are no accumulations, no evidence of rodent activity or harbourage and it is simply just a wild, overgrown garden with dense vegetation, I would utilise Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act (Sec215).  If I can get some improvements to the exterior of the property carried out at the same time (if needed), then I will include them in the notice.

In the first instance I would try to use PDPA because any costs incurred can be registered as a first charge, whereas costs incurred under Sec215 cannot be registered as a first charge.  Important if you are eventually going to have to enforce the sale of the property.  

Regards

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

Hi Sarah

We use Section 215's, they are quite effective, we often find the threat of action is enough to make the owners do something. 

We do have a number of owners who don't respond or react to anything, and S215's have been very useful the only downside is the length of time they take.

Terry - I've had a look at the Ways and Means Act but could only find information about criminal activity, do you have any further information about this act?

Regards

Nicola

Nicola

The Ways and Means is a piece of unwritten, non-legislation, employed by Empty Homes officers to carry out their role more effectively while working with the legisaltion available to us. 

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

Hi Sarah 

Here at Gedling Borough Council we use Sectdion 215 of The Town and Country Planning Act 1990.  This gives them a reasonable amount of time to do the works and if not then we would do works in default - if the amount charges is not paid then we would look to put a charge on the property and force the sale. 

Hope this helps

Nikki Bryant 

Hi

We use section 215 also where appropriate but there must be something we can include that can be viewed from the street or a public right of way. The guidance around s215 centres around 'streetscene' so for us there must be an element about improving the visual amenity of an area and not just the view from a neighbour's back garden. The wording around enforcement of s215 permits entry to the land but does not appear to include the right to enter land by force and re-secure, as does say PDPA. So, we would only be able to clear a rear garden if it was accessible and we did not have to force a locked gate, for example.

Our Environmental Health team will consider a CPW/CPN if the overgrown garden is causing a nuisance or attracting asb.

Sue

Sue Li

Compulsory Purchase and Enforcement Officer

Derby City Council

Just querying the use of PDPA for overgrown gardens as we have had a massive increase in Bradford of rat issues and the neighbours all point to the overgrown garden of an empty property. We are considering starting to use PDPA, but have reservations as it is difficult to prove the rats are coming from that particular garden- everyone just assumes so. I know we have powers of entry under PDPA but I cant find anywhere forced entry powers for this legislation. I would love to be put right on this. We have used S80 EPA for rats in empty houses but would have to be clear that they are definitely in there and have had success obtaining warrants in these instances. 

I found the presentaion on CPNs at the Conference very useful and will look at this again as a possible solution. We have considered S215 notices before but there isn't the appetite for us to get those delegated powers from Planning and we are also afraid it will open the floodgates. Planning dont have the resources to do them for us. Best wishes 

Lorna

Dear All

Just building on Lorna's comments.

One of the benefits of the S4, PDPA 1949 is as long the works do not involve structural works, such as drains then there is no right of appeal.

The owner would not be able to appeal against the notice if it related to only clearance,  so limits the risk to the LA. Their only option is judicial review -  costly and time limited.

There are power of entry powers provisions under the Act, but no warrant provisions. Therefore, a challenge to undertake works in default inside the property, if it is secure. Other powers such as EPA 1990 may therefore be appropriate.

Regards

Andrew Lavender

 

 

In relation to the s215 TCPA.  My understanding from some training that Andrew Lavender delivered some years back, is that you should be careful about using the legislation to tackle overgrown gardens per se, as case law has established that gardens are 'of the nature' (or words to this effect).  The principle presumably being that is not for councils to police the degree of growth from one garden to another. And in any event, the authority should be consistent in its application (e.g. apply it to owner occupiers not just use it as a tool to hit empty property owners).  Certainly our Planning Team have never to my knowledge served a s215 notice on a property just with an overgrown garden, buy they may add it to a notice served to tackle building related impacts on the amenity.  If someone who knows more about any related case law could shed further light, it could be useful.