One front garden in our pretty cul-de-sac is shockingly unkempt

Property Clinic: We love where we live and keep it looking well. This situation is distressing

Our cul-de-sac of eight dormer houses in a coastal county is pretty as a picture and well kept by its owners apart from one house at the entrance, which has become a talking point in the village. The overgrown front lawn of this house is shockingly unkempt, strewn with discarded toys, overflowing dustbins and broken fencing, a rusty barbecue, old paint tins, an unused trampoline listing to the side. I could go on ... The large back garden is mostly unused.

My neighbours and I don’t know how to approach this distressing situation. We are torn between offending the owner of the house and the inevitable effect on the value of our own properties from this unsightly introduction to our little road. Advice ranges from offering to help the owner tackle the chaos (we have tried this individually with no success) to selling up and moving on.

Most residents in our cul-de-sac are of a certain age and have varied degrees of mobility. We love where we live, and we work hard to keep it looking well. This situation is causing us great distress.

Ed Carey writes: This is obviously an awkward situation where the earlier option of individual approaches has failed, and a group approach is less likely to succeed. I think the group approach could also regrettably lead to an inevitable deterioration in neighbourly relations and the owner in question becoming entrenched in their views.

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I presume you’ve tried or discussed the situation with other of his family members or acquaintances. I do not think you should consider selling-up – that is a drastic option. You clearly like your location, and, particularly in today’s market, your where-to-go options are very limited. Furthermore, you could well find yourself in an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” situation.

Your only other option is to approach the council. The Litter Pollution Act, 1997, as amended by the Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001 and the Protection of the Environment Act 2003, introduced penalties to help combat the problems of litter pollution more effectively. The owner or occupier of property that can be seen from a public place is obliged to keep the property free of litter. This means that any outdoor area on a property visible from a public place must be kept free of litter. Failure to keep your property litter free can result in a fine or prosecution by your local authority.

In addition, extra powers are also available to your local authority to require a householder or business operator to indicate how and where they are disposing of their waste. This is particularly relevant if the householder or business owner is not availing of a refuse collection service or is not bringing their waste to an authorised disposal facility, which would appear to be the situation with your neighbour. Many county councils run an "Are you waste compliant?" campaign aimed mainly at households to ensure their waste is properly disposed of. Your council will have a litter pollution officer, and I suggest making a complaint with the details to the officer, who should be able to enforce the clearing of the litter from the front of the property.

Ed Carey is a chartered residential agency surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland