What does ‘unsightly’ mean?
A property or premises can be considered dangerous or unsightly due to:
- unconstrained or excessive rubbish
- disused excavation, machinery, vehicles or waste material
- excessive vegetation, including grass exceeding 150mm in height
- graffiti which is visible to the public, or
- a combination of these factors.
It can also be where the appearance of the land is one of neglect and is out of character with other land in the vicinity.
Why well-maintained properties are important
Well-maintained properties and land, whether private, commercial or industrial, are important for the overall impression of Merri-bek as a safe, tidy and cared for area.
Properties that are poorly maintained can:
- have a negative effect on the area's appearance
- lead to graffiti, vandalism and other anti-social behaviour, and
- attract vermin or create a fire hazard.
For these reasons, Council has created a local law that requires property owners and occupiers to maintain their property and prevent them from becoming unsightly.
Responsibilities of property owners and occupiers
Moreland Council's General Local Law simply states that the owner or occupier of land must not cause or allow their property or premises to be kept in a condition which Council considers unsightly or detrimental to the general amenity of the neighbourhood.
An owner or occupier of land must also ensure that their property does not constitute a danger to a person’s health or another person’s property.
To avoid your property from becoming unsightly, it is important to regularly maintain your garden, lawn and around your home.
It is also recommended that you store building and other materials in a neat and tidy manner, preferably in your backyard, a shed, suitable receptacle or screened from public view.
In addition, all vacant land in Merri-bek must be fenced.
If you are a landlord, you are jointly responsible with your tenant to make sure the rented property is maintained.
Penalties apply to breaches of the Local Law. These include issuing of Notices to Comply, infringements and referral to the Magistrates’ Court.
Vacant land and fire prevention - know your responsibilities
Every year before and during the fire danger period Merri-bek City Council inspects the condition of properties that may contribute to the spread or cause of fire.
As a property owner it is your responsibility to maintain your property. You must ensure the property is free of long grass, undergrowth, excessive vegetation, weeds and other materials that constitute a fire hazard.
A Fire Prevention Notice is issued to a property that has been deemed a risk.
Please see the Fire Prevention Notice flyer (PDF 247Kb) for further information.
How to report an unsightly property
Council conducts random inspections of vacant land and unoccupied properties in Merri-bek.
When Council receives your report, a Council officer is sent to inspect the property.
Where Council is of the opinion that the property or premises is unsightly or dangerous, Council can serve a Notice to Comply to the owner and/or occupier, in accordance with clause 17.10 of the Moreland City Council General Local Law 2018 (DOC 622Kb).
The Notice to Comply outlines the reasons why the property is deemed unsightly or dangerous, and will state the works required to be completed by a specific date. If the works are not completed by the due date, an infringement may be issued or the matter referred to the Magistrates' Court.