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Overgrown garden and large fox den

Reported in the Trees category anonymously at 07:32, Fri 19 June 2015

Sent to Hackney Council 3 minutes later

The rear garden of the three story block of flats on Sewdley Street has been unattended and overgrown for at least two years. It is now home to a den of up to 10 foxes which roam the neighborhood at night tearing up lawns, knocking over rubbish bins, etc. There are many families in the area with small children and as a first step to helping the foxes move on we think it's about time someone sorted out this jungle garden.

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  • Foxes are not legally vermin, so it is unlikely that a council will be able to do anything about them, and their is no legislation they can use to force the removal of places that are attractive to them. If this had been rats, the correct place to report the issue would have been the environmental health department, who are not covered by FMS because their work is enforcement and therefore tends to involve accusations about third parties.

    Some councils (very few), might intervene because of an eyesore on private land, either by using a section 215 notice under the Town and Country Planning Act, to the owner or occupier, or by using a community protection notice under the latest anti-social behaviour legislation. Southwark and Barking & Dagenham are the only London councils that I know to regularly use these, but that is typically for when people turn their front garden into a rubbish tip. The term use is "detrimental to the public amenity".

    Again, because it is enforcement against third parties, it is not appropriate for FMS.

    Note if this is social housing, or council housing, you should contact the relevant social landlord's management organisation. For Hackney council housing, that would be Hackney Homes. Such landlords may be able to take action under tenancy agreements, when the council would have no legal basis for action.

    For private flats, this situation typically arises when the head leaseholders either own the freehold, or are responsible for maintaining the garden, but most of them are now buy to let landlords, and the rest are too old to get involved. I suspect only national legislation will really help in such cases.

    For private sector flats, I would forget the foxes issue (at most it will be used to prioritise action on a different basis) and investigate whether your council does have a policy of acting against owners of eyesore gardens. If they don't, or they don't consider this to be bad enough (quite possible if there is no significant rubbish or it is not visible from the public road), your best course of action is to contact your local councillors, about a possible change of policy. Local councillors might also intervene informally and write to the owners telling them about the local concerns about their land.

    Anything that does happen is likely to take months, unless the land owner suddenly takes on their social responsibilities, as the council can only directly intervene after both informal and formal approaches to the owner have failed. The owner will get charged with the work.

    Not from the council.

    Posted anonymously at 09:48, Fri 19 June 2015

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