City can put ‘weed liens’ on overgrown Huntsville properties

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – With all this summer rain, you’ve probably noticed your grass is growing more than you would probably like.

Even though you may put on some sunscreen and take out the riding mower, your neighbor may not put in that extra effort. They may even let their lawn become a public nuisance, which could earn them a fine.

The city has options if a yard looks a mess. A city ordinance is even in place to give them the authority to address overgrown lawns, and even take matters into their own hands at times.

It’s an issue that comes up regularly this time of year, and was on the Council’s agenda Thursday night as a public forum item.

City council members are reminding Huntsville residents that they are authorized to put a “weed lien” on properties that have been declared a public nuisance.

It’s not an ‘out to get you’ ordinance, but a way to help keep the community looking its best.

Councilman Bill Kling explains it’s a combined effort.

“The city development department, they go all over the city, sometimes they get calls from city council members, or even from members of the public about certain areas to take a look at,” said Kling.

If workers find that lawns are out of compliance with the law, then they will issue a citation. They will set a date for the property owner to clear it out. If they don’t do it within that set period of time, they’ll do it themselves, charging you a fee.

If you chose not to pay the fee, Kling says it could get worse.

“Then they’ll put a lien on the property. That means 20 years from now, you cannot sell the property until the lien to the City of Huntsville has been taken care of.”

The city ordinance says workers have to send a registered letter to notify property owners, before they take matters into their own hands.

Kling adds it’s the same rules statewide, they aren’t trying to be nit-picky or unfair.  No one really wants to have one-foot-tall grass next door to them.

4 comments

  • Laddy Ratliff

    I really think you need to look at the other side of the coin. I’m sure their are some complaints made by the public about on going problems in some neighborhoods. Let me tell you the truth about how it really works.
    Community Development have code enforcement officers or as they call them Housing Specialist. I prefer calling them Grass Natzies.They ride around all day and generate this violations. Here are just some of the the violation they love to use (1) Being unsightly (2) Grass or weeds exceeding 8″ in height (3) Providing breeding grounds and shelter for rats, mice, snakes, mosquitoes and other vermin, insects or pests. These are just three of the subjective violation they love to write. Now I’m not talking about just in a neighborhood or subdivision. This is how they treat commercial and industrial land too.
    Here’s how the scam works. The Housing Specialist thinks he or she has a violation so they generate the”Official Notice” that is mailed to the address that is gathered from the Tax collectors office. Now this information from the tax office that may or may not be correct, because it could be over a year sometimes before its ever changed if the property is sold or title is transferred. Also the address and contact person that the tax collector has on file is not always the person that holds title or control of it.
    But Community Development would never know if it has made it to the correct person because THE “OFFICIAL NOTICE” IS NOT SENT CERTIFIED MAIL TO CORRECT THE STATEMENT MADE BY MR KLING.
    On the Official Notice you are given about 7 days from the date of issued to appeal it. By the time it has reached you,(if it was even sent to the correct person) that date has passed. Good luck talking to a real person when you call isn’t normally voice mail with no response back. You would have better luck calling the VA for a doctors appointment.
    Next on the “Official Notice” (I’m still talking about that fist letter that you may or may not have received) you are given a date the violations need to be corrected by, which is around 20 days from the date it was issued in there office. Which if you back off the 3 to 5 days it takes the mail sometimes you really have 15 days, but that still doesn’t matter if you didn’t receive the “Official Notice” but that doesn’t matter to them,THE “OFFICIAL NOTICE” IS NOT SENT CERTIFIED MAIL TO CORRECT THE STATEMENT MADE BY MR KLING.
    Now the deadline has passed so with out any further notice to you or court order enter your property they will come in and do what ever they want on your property. They still don’t know if the first Official Notice was sent to the proper person or received because IS NOT SENT CERTIFIED MAIL TO CORRECT THE STATEMENT MADE BY MR KLING.
    The second letter sent is a bill( demand letter) for what ever they felt they needed to do to correct the violations on your property.They still don’t know if the first Official Notice was sent to the proper person or received because IS NOT SENT CERTIFIED MAIL TO CORRECT THE STATEMENT MADE BY MR KLING. So they send the second letter to the same address anyway.
    The last letter is the notice of lien that has the date the city council will vote on the liens. You may as well stand by your mail box because it will shows up about 3 days after the bill letter.
    From start to finish they send three letters that are NOT SENT CERTIFIED MAIL TO CORRECT THE STATEMENT MADE BY MR KLING
    Community Development will repeat this process over and over on the same property and never check to see that the letters have been sent to the correct person. Racking up lien after lien and not caring. I cant believe a councilman would vote to lien a persons property knowing how this is being done.

  • BeauEvil

    Cities used to, at least, make an ATTEMPT for a justification of government intrusion into property rights. They USED to refer to the danger of rats and snakes because of an overgrown lawn. In these days of ever more government intrusion into rights, all they have to say is, “looks a mess” (completely subjective) to “to help keep the community looking its best” (also subjective). I have news for y’all. A property OWNER is NOT obligated to “keep the community looking its best”! OWNERSHIP implies that the OWNER can do what they want with thier own property until it causes a REAL problem with neighbors. If neighbors don’t like the “looks”, they can BUT IT! This socialist bs about society being more important than the individual is ruining our society!

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