What to do if your neighbor's yard is overgrown or trashy

What to do if your neighbor's yard is overgrown or trashy

May 10, 2006

6 On Your Side Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- It's the time of year when grass is growing fast. But what happens if your neighbor lets his yard get out of hand?

6 On Your Side gets calls about overgrown and trashy yards all the time.

Recently, Sarah Brabson, a North Knoxville resident, called about a similar problem in her neighborhood.

Sarah says she tries to keep her yard clean but her neighbor's place is a different story. There's an old toilet, old cans and rusty yard furniture. Another neighbor even leaves his garbage outside.

"Well, the grass grows real high and everything. I have to call code. They send a letter and tell him to cut the grass," Sarah says.

Neighborhood services chief David Brace says, "Vegetation growth over 12 inches needs to be taken care of by the property owner."

David says his community and neighborhood services department helps people who want their neighborhood looking better.

Yards that are overgrown with weeds and grass higher than 12 inches and messy yards are frequent complaints his department receives at this time of the year.

"People get busy in the spring and they don't always remember to mow their lot with the rain and warm weather. This is a busy time of the year for our inspectors," David says.

Inspectors checked the yard next to Sarah's home. "We've received the complaint. We've been out within those three business days. We've posted notification. The next step, if the owner does not rectify the situation, the city would then step in," David says.

"You want the owner to clean it up first," 6 On Your Side says. "We want property owners to do the right thing, that personal effort to maintain their property," David says.

Sarah called Knoxville's 311 city services center for help. 311 is the single number Knoxville residents need to remember for any type of assistance, especially for the type Sarah needed.

"Immediately call 311, report the address, have a good accurate address or description. The 311 operators will take it from there," David says.

Last year, more than 8,000 calls were logged at the center regarding dirty lots. The calls were also on inoperable vehicles, illegal dumping and so on.

"Call 311, get it in the system, that assigns a tracking number to that case," David says. "There's an oversight on us to make sure we get our work done."

The city wants property owners to take the initiative before the city does any kind of clean up. If city workers clean up a lot, it won't cost just a few dollars. It will cost hundreds of dollars to haul away trash or mow the yard.

Also, the city's Community and Neighborhood Services Department keeps a list of recurrent or chronic problems and follows up on them.

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