Last updated 19 June 2016

It is not unusual for conflict to arise about the state of a neighbour’s backyard or ‘eyesores’ like old car bodies and machinery.

The way in which neighbours maintain their property is entirely their own business and, unless it causes some nuisance to the adjoining property occupier, there is little that can be done.

A complaint about excessive odours from rubbish or compost heaps can be made to the local council. In the absence of a smell, there is little a neighbour can do about the apparent eyesore.

If the general state of repair of the neighbour’s property is such that it constitutes a threat to public health or safety, or a landowner allows their land to become overgrown with vegetation or suspected noxious plants, the local council should be contacted. Most local councils have local laws dealing with overgrown allotments.

Public health risks

Under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld), a public health order may be issued to a person who is responsible for something which is a risk to public health. A public health risk includes something that is (or may become) the breeding ground, food source or home of a pest.

Some activities or things may be public health problems in some situations but perfectly alright in many other circumstances. If any of the following is or is likely to be hazardous to human health, or contributes to disease or the transmission of an infectious condition in humans, it may be a public health risk:

  • water (recycled or otherwise)
  • waste
  • animals and animal remains
  • pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals
  • lead and paint
  • other chemicals and substances which may be released (including asbestos and fibreglass)
  • any structure, substance or other thing that is or is likely to harbour designated pests, or become a breeding ground or a source of food for it.

A public health order may require a person to:

  • clean or disinfect a place
  • arrange pest or insect control
  • demolish, remove or dispose of items or structures
  • destroy animals
  • stop using a place for a particular purpose
  • take other steps or stop other actions (as appropriate or reasonably necessary in the circumstances).

Failure to comply with a public health order may result in a fine or further enforcement action.

Complaints about possible public health risks may be made to the health inspectors of local councils or the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. The agency responsible for responding to the risk depends on the type and scope of the problem.

For other environmental and health hazards see the Laws Affecting the Environment chapter.