Overgrown gardens and vermin

If you suspect a neighbour's garden is attracting vermin and posing a public health risk we can take action, but you will need to be able to prove that any infestation is the result of the condition of the neighbouring land.

Overgrown and unkempt back gardens do not necessarily indicate a public health issue, but rats and mice are attracted to areas of dense vegetation (with brambles or long grass) or with decaying waste, food stuffs or soft furnishings. Mature shrubs and trees and non-putrescible waste (white goods, plastics and building materials) do not indicate a public health issue.

If you regularly spot rodents on your property you should inspect and proof any vulnerable areas of your home, outbuildings and boundary. A professional pest control service will be able to confirm whether there is an infestation issue, and if it is a result of the condition of any neighbouring land. Their report may be passed on to us as evidence of any public health risk and we will take appropriate action.

The Councils no longer operate a pest control service, but have negotiated a service with Dial a Pest (SDK Environmental Services). Further details can be found on our pest control page.

The information below is designed to assist you to take the appropriate action, based on whether or not a health risk exists. 

  • Untidy front gardens, driveways and land visible from the street may be deemed 'detrimental to visual amenity' under planning enforcement guidelines - see What is enforcement?
  • Issues regarding high trees and hedges should also be directed to the Planning Department - see enforcement and high hedges
  • Damage to your property, including fences, as a result of overgrown vegetation is a civil matter. So too are branches or vegetation overhanging the boundary line. Material can be cut and passed back to the side from where it originated. However, it is recommended that you discuss matters with your neighbour beforehand. You are strongly advised not to burn green waste as it gives rise to smoke that can cause local air pollution and negative health effects.
  • Many creatures considered pests do not present an actionable public health risk. This includes Foxes, which often inhabit overgrown gardens - see:

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Page last updated: 13 January 2020