Homeowners have been warned they could receive a £50,000 fine if they don’t deal with a problem created by their neighbours. A top lawyer has disclosed an obscure rule that could land residents in hot water, according to a national newspaper.
Due to Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, homeowners that become victims of fly-tipping are financially liable if they fail to ‘safely dispose of the rubbish,’ the Sun reports.
The little-known piece of legislation suggests it’s illegal to keep ‘controlled waste on unauthorised land’, even if it wasn’t you who made the mess. While residents in the UK are accustomed to public services removing their rubbish for free, it is still the legal responsibility of the homeowner if this is not possible.
Sebastian, chair of the Law Society’s Planning and Environmental Law Committee, told the national newspaper: "The main waste offence is targeted at fly-tippers and makes depositing controlled waste an offence. However, innocent landowners can get caught out too because it is also an offence to ‘keep’ controlled waste on your land.
"So you might be a victim of fly-tipping but also commit an offence if you don’t clear away the waste fly-tipped by others," he explains. "It isn’t the council’s job to clear away waste from private land.
"It might seem harsh but the reason is obvious – it is really difficult to catch criminal fly-tippers in the act and prove who deposited unlawful waste.
"If it was the council’s responsibility to clear up unlawful waste everywhere, criminals might dump waste on their own land, then claim it was dumped by someone else,” Sebastian said.
The lawyer explained such an incident would in fact hold up in court and it is possible offenders could serve jail time if they’re unable to pay the fine.