Putting off these household chores could cost you up to £5,000

home jobs
home jobs

Do you have a list of jobs around the house that you keep meaning to get to but never quite manage?

Most of us do. But often we don’t address them because the issues we need to fix are seemingly minor, causing a brief annoyance every now and then.

However, what if these apparent inconveniences could actually land you with fines of up to £5,000?

Regulation around building safety, water supply and waste management, among others, mean that you could be left with a nasty surprise if you neglect to sort common issues with your home or garden.

Telegraph Money has taken a look at what could happen if you ignore household chores – and whether you’re risking a fine.

A leaking tap, or pipes

Leaks in your taps or pipes are common and can be a nuisance to fix. They can also be difficult to spot. While a burst pipe will probably be obvious due to the amount of water gushing out, the signs of a smaller leak are less easy to spot.

Clues include a drop in water or boiler pressure, and damp patches on walls or ceilings.

Once you have identified the leak – even if it is just a dripping tap – it is important to get it fixed as quickly as possible. The average rate for a plumber is £50 per hour or £347.50 per day, according to website Checkatrade.

Failing to stop leaks could cost you far more. Firstly, there’s the cost of the water you’re losing. Although most water companies have a leak allowance that will reduce your water bill by the amount that has been lost, to prevent you paying for water you haven’t used, they do come with conditions.

Thames Water’s policy, for example, states that the leak has to be fixed within four weeks of being identified, that the leak cannot have been caused by negligence, and that you didn’t know about the leak.

Furthermore, you could face a fine of up to £1,000. Under the Water Industry Act 1991, if you allow water fittings to be or remain in a defective condition you can be prosecuted. Under the legislation you are required to fix a leak within a “reasonable amount of time”, so the faster the better.

Overflowing or broken bins

It is never a fun job to sort out bins, and easy to forget sitting outside of your home, but they can be a real problem, especially in areas with foxes as they’re likely to wreak havoc with any waste they can get hold of.

The damage done to your bank account by leaving them could be acute. Fines for overflowing or broken bins can be as high as £500 under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

If your bins are starting to look a little worse for wear it may be worth getting in touch with your local council and ordering more before the situation escalates.

Waste management fines are not only for residential bins. There is also a range of fixed penalty notices you could be liable for if you don’t manage household waste properly. The obvious one is fly-tipping; leaving waste somewhere you are not legally authorised to do so.

You can also get fined for littering and failing to clean up after your dog. Usually you have two weeks to pay the fine, and taking any longer risks the fine escalating, and you could even face prosecution.

Some councils also have penalties if you don’t put the right household waste in the right bins, so it is worth checking you are up-to-date with your local requirements.


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Blocked gutters and drains

Another loathed household chore is cleaning out the drains and gutters, especially in the autumn and winter months when they can become clogged with fallen leaves.

But damaged gutters can do significant damage if the built up water leaks into your home, or harms the brickwork of the property. It could even lead to water damage in your foundations.

Checkatrade estimates the cost of fixing a single damaged gutter is usually between £120-£180 for a semi-detached house. If a join is in need of replacing, the price is likely to come to £60-£90, including materials and workmanship.

Beyond harming your own property, there is also a risk of fines if your blocked guttering or drains damage your neighbour’s property.

Under the Building Act 1984 local authorities can compel homeowners to repair any damage to the drainage system on their property.

If they fail to take any action, authorities can carry out the work themselves and charge you for it.

Councils can also take action against you using the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, according to Oadby and Wigston Borough Council. Blocked gutters and downpipes can result in a notice served to the owner if the problem impacts the ‘amenity’ of a local area. Failure to comply with a notice could see you fined as much as £1,000.

Untidy gardens and broken fences

Fences are often the subject of feuds between neighbours, as disputes arise when it’s unclear whose responsibility it is to fix a broken fence. Details of who owns which side of the fence can usually be found on your house deed or the Land Registry.

However, it may become a bigger dispute if a broken fence results in a fine.

Under the Building Act 1984, dangerous damage to a building or structure can lead to an order from a local authority requiring repair.

If this isn’t carried out the owner runs the risk of the council completing the work and billing them for it, or taking them to court to reclaim the expenses – and possibly even an additional fine.

Wandsworth Council website notes: “All of our costs are charged to the owner of the building. We will send an invoice which will include the total cost of the work carried out and a breakdown showing time spent and materials used.”

You also have a civil duty of care to any visitors to your home, meaning you could be liable if they are injured due to a faulty structure.

Fence maintenance is worth keeping up with as repair costs can run into the thousands, according to specialist website AirTasker. Depending on factors including the material a fence is made from and the cause of the damage, repairs can cost from £500 to £3,000.

Common wooden garden fences are at the cheaper end of the spectrum with the price rising for metal structures.

Your responsibility doesn’t stop at your fence. You can also run the risk of a fine if your garden is untidy to such an extent that it affects the neighbourhood and garners complaints. It could be deemed as a “statutory nuisance”, with fines running up to £5,000.

A notice on north London council Enfield’s website says: “We will try to resolve the complaint informally with the property owner. If that fails, we can serve a notice only if it becomes a statutory nuisance.

“If the issue is still not resolved, the person responsible can be fined up to £5,000 or go to prison. We will also fix the problem at the property owner’s cost.”

Log burners

Finally, while log burners and wood burning stoves have become a controversial yet trendy interior feature, having a fire could break government regulations and land you with a fine.

Following the introduction of smoke control areas in England, it’s worth checking with your local council whether the burner is compliant before you strike a match.

If you do and the fire emits too much smoke, you may have to pay a fine of up to £300.


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