What to do about overgrown, unmaintained yards in your neighborhood


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some neighbors in northeast Austin keep reporting an unruly yard there, highlighting what others should do if they experience a similar problem in their neighborhood. 

The property in question is located at the corner of Windward and Trafalgar Drives. A neighbor’s complaint Sunday brought the City of Austin’s Code Department to the house. Once again, the owner was told he has seven days to cut his yard because it poses a risk to others.

“It’s not illegal to have an ugly house,” Khalid Marshall said. “We do try to keep down the grass and weeds to make sure there’s no harborage of rodents or that type of thing.” 

Marshall works as a code enforcement investigator, though he was not involved with this particular situation. Still, he said about 30 to 40 percent of his calls are related to “property maintenance” issues, like “tall grass, weeds, trash, debris, that type of thing.”  

The house on Windward Drive is familiar to the city’s Code Department. According to an agency spokesperson, the city responded nine times in 2018 and twice in 2017 to complaints about the property. Each time, though, the city reported that the owner came into compliance within the required seven days before further action was taken. 

When someone addresses the violation within the required timeframe, code enforcement officers cannot do much else unless they get another report through Austin 311. 

Neighbors on Windward Drive told KXAN that worry they’ll simply have to keep reporting problems at the same property, like the city suggests, because little else is stopping this recurring issue. 

“I know that it can be frustrating to see a property that you live next to that’s constantly in violation or can be in violation,” Marshall said, “but just call me and we’ll come out and check.” 

KXAN tried several times to contact the owner of the house, but never reached him. 

The Austin Code Department has a list of common code violations. It includes weeds or grass over 12 inches, accumulation of garbage or any unsightly matter at a home and more vehicles stored at a house than there are licensed drivers. Additional vehicles should be in a garage. 

To report potential code violations, simply call 311. 

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