Are There Laws Against Littering On Your Own Property?


Littering on Own Property

We know trash and blight can stigmatize neighboring properties, they can foster crime and become a public health hazard. Citing reduction in property values along with eyesores, health hazards, and rodents, State Representatives Boggs and Miller have introduced legislation to criminalize litter on one’s own property in the state of Ohio.

During her testimony before the House State and Local Government Committee, as a proponent of the legislation, Representative Boggs argued that communities are struggling with urban blight caused by factors that include the opioid crisis and lack of employment opportunities. She testified that rampant garbage and debris have spread in many of these communities, and the efforts of activists cannot keep up. The legislation is intended to help communities with the urban blight from excessive debris in yards, alleys, and streets.

The legislation establishes a criminal penalty for owners of private property in cities and villages who deposit litter of any kind or quantity reasonably expected to be dangerous to life or health. Litter can be garbage, waste, ashes, cans, bottle, wire, paper, boxes, automobile parts, furniture, glass or anything else of an unsightly or unsanitary nature.

If the condition exists for at least two days, an enforcement official must give the owner notice specifying the conditions constituting a violation and five business days to remedy those conditions. The enforcement official can be a sheriff, deputy sheriff, police officer, and other law enforcement officers. Owners that do not comply can be charged criminally with a misdemeanor of the third degree and face up to sixty days in jail and a fine up to $500.00. Repeat offenders can face a jail term of up to 90 days and fined up to $750.00.

In offering his sponsorship testimony, Representative Miller indicated that traditionally Ohioans have had to use nuisance suites to clean up these types of blighted properties. He advised that this law would address excessive garbage and debris left by the landowner, tenant, or other agents on their own property. Representatives of the South Central Hilltop Block Watch and the Operations Manager for Friends of the Hilltop also testified in support of the legislation.

If enacted this law will be another resource for neighbors seeking to clean up and revitalize vacant and abandoned lots filled with trash and debris. The text of the legislation can be viewed at HB 633.

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