As Britain’s housing boom continues,  SDL Property Auctions has warned of ten ways first-time buyers and new homeowners could be fined up to £5,000 - from having a messy garden to even painting their front door.


With the number of first-time buyers doubling over the past year, many may not be aware of some of the simple ways that you can technically break the law, without realising. And whether you have owned your house for two months or two years, there are a number of ways you can risk being fined by going about your daily life.


SDL Property Auctions has put together a list of ten ways you can be fined for everyday tasks, to ensure that those on the property ladder can enjoy their new home with as few worries as possible:


1 - Putting your bins too far onto the pavement

The government can issue fixed penalties if a homeowner puts their bins out in a way that can cause obstruction to your neighbours. This includes placing your bin too far out onto the pavement, so that it impedes the natural flow of pedestrians walking. For example, if someone in a wheelchair or pushing a pram would have to walk onto the road because of the placement of your bin.


2 - Arguing too loudly

Moving house can be a stressful time and could lead to household arguments. Buying a property was recently rated as life’s most stressful event in the UK, above COVID, driving tests, divorce and having a child.

Community Protection Notices (CPNs) can be issued by local councils if a resident is accused of disrupting their neighbours’ everyday lives. Fines of up to £5,000 can be imposed on individuals under the Noise Act 1996, as the local authority has an obligation to deal with noise which may be deemed a nuisance, such as loud shouting or in some rare cases, loud crying.


3 - Your kids playing knock door run

If your children make friends in your neighbourhood, they’re likely to want to head outdoors in summer and play with each other. However, make sure that they’re not tempted to play “knock door run” (also referred to as “knock down ginger) - the act of knocking on a neighbour or strangers’ door and running away before they open the door.

As part of Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, every person who ‘shall wilfully disturb any inhabitant by pulling or ringing any door-bell or knocking at any door without lawful excuse’ can be landed with a £500 fine.


4 - Forgetting to change your address on your driver’s licence

There are often dozens of companies you will need to notify when you move to tell them of your change of address - but make sure the DVLA doesn’t slip off your list. A fine of up to £1,000 can be imposed upon you if you’re stopped by traffic police or hire a car and the address doesn’t match up.


5 - Having a messy garden

Is your primary focus for the first few months after moving in on improving the interiors of your home? Make sure you don’t neglect your garden. While it’s still within your own property, if a neighbour complains about a front or back garden that is “detrimental to the amenity of the neighbourhood”, you could be fined. This is under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Section 215 which states that councils have the power to require proper maintenance of land.


6 - Not nominating a key holder for your burglar alarm

When you move to a new property and area, security is likely to be one of your main priorities. However, before installing your burglar alarm, setting it and heading out, make sure that you’ve nominated a key holder.

It’s illegal to activate your home alarm without nominating one. According to the Sentencing Council, failure to do this can see you fined a minimum of £50.

The key holder should not be someone who lives in the property, but does hold keys to the premise, and have sufficient information to silence the alarm. Your local police force should have a section on its website to enable you to register their contact details.


7 - Setting off fireworks at night for your birthday

It’s illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7pm except for:

      Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight

      New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1am

It’s wise to always check your council first to find out about any local rules for setting off fireworks. You can be fined an unlimited amount or even face imprisonment for up to six months for selling or using fireworks illegally.


8 - Decorating your home recklessly

Make sure that Christmas, Halloween or birthday decorations you add to your home do not cause any obstruction or present a possible hazard to your guests.

If someone has an accident because of the way that you have decorated your property, you could be dealt with a fine of up to £5,000 under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957 and Occupier’s Liability Act 1984. This could include lanterns placed on the stairs which could be a trip hazard, or bunting which is hanging too low, and close to candles.


9 - Painting your front door

Auctions can be goldmines for renovation opportunities, with everything from former police stations to homes constructed out of train carriages.

Whether it’s a doer-upper or just needs a personal touch, you’re likely going to want to make a few changes to your abode. But if you own a leasehold property, you need to be fully clued up on the amends that you can make to your house.

For example, if you own a flat, the leasehold will often have rules about what you can and cannot do with the property. The lease will contain details regarding changes that you may want to make to your property, and you may find that some of these are forbidden.


10 - Be wary of the height of your shed

Usually, you won’t need any planning permission for an outbuilding such as a playhouse, shed or sauna cabin, however if it’s any higher than 2.5 metres, you will need planning permission. This is because it can cause your neighbours to feel that they’re lacking privacy, or block the natural light into their garden.


Andrew Parker, Managing Director and Auctioneer at SDL Property Auctions commented on the research:

“Moving house should be an exciting time - especially for first-time buyers. With house prices and deposits rising, once you move into your home you don’t want to also have to fork out for any fines that you have been charged for after unknowingly committing a crime.

“That’s why we have put together this list, to help first-time byers and those already on the property ladder to have the peace of mind that they’re following the appropriate laws. Whether you have owned your house for two months or two years, you should always consult with your local council or planning authority if you’re in doubt about something, to save yourself a headache and enjoy the huge accomplishment that is purchasing a home.

“It’s also worth noting that purchasing a house can be stressful – but many people find that buying a house via auction can alleviate some of the common stresses, since there’s no risk of gazumping, and you’re likely to get the keys much faster than via the traditional treaty method.”