I’m selling my house, and my neighbours’ unkempt yard is bringing down my curb appeal. Do I have the legal authority to get them to clean it up?
You’re not alone. The city receives thousands of complaints on this subject each year. If you’ve extended a polite request—perhaps a note, passive-aggressively tucked into their mailbox—to no avail, the Municipal Licensing and Standards Division can step in. Property with grass exceeding 20 centimetres is in violation of the grass and weeds chapter of the municipal code. Likewise, any piled-up trash is in violation of the littering and dumping of refuse chapter. Following a complaint, the city will send an inspector to issue a notice of violation and give the residents a week to shape up. If that doesn’t work, the city can take the offenders to court (a rarity, given our lethargic legal system) or send crews to conduct the cleanup, slapping all associated costs onto the home owner’s property tax bill. But keep in mind that the municipal government is not in the business of manicuring yards to meet Martha Stewart standards, so if you’re merely neat-freaking on the neighbours (i.e., your definition of unkempt is clashing flower beds), it’s probably best to foot the bill for a neighbourly make-over. Call it peripheral fluffing, and let your newly pristine view be its own reward.
• Question from Monica Lee Murray, Little Portugal
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