Allotment inspections, notices and terminations
This page is designed to provide answers to questions relating to allotment plot inspections, nuisance notices and tenancy terminations. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below will answer the most common questions directly.
A copy of the allotments rulebook v.3 (PDF 280KB) is available for download.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)s
- Plot inspections, notices and terminations:
- I have received a cultivation or weed notice yet I consider my plot to be in good order – what action should I take?
- How can I grow fruit trees without breaching cultivation rules?
- What happens if I fail to act on a notice?
- I have received a notice but I am struggling to keep up with the work and I’m afraid I might lose my plot, what action should I take?
- I am struggling with cultivating my large plot, how do I go about splitting it down to a more manageable half plot?
- What is the difference between a weed notice and a cultivation notice?
- How can I ensure that my level of cultivation is acceptable?
- Who inspected my plot and what do plot inspectors work to?
- I want more advice on how to avoid failing my re-inspection, who can I talk to about this?
- I received a notice but I will need more time than that specified on the notice to put the problem right, what should I do?
- I have received a ‘getting there’, letter after a re-inspection. What does this mean?
- I received a notice but I am unable to act upon the order because I have been ill, or because I have other mitigating personal reasons. What can I do to avoid failing my follow up inspection and being terminated?
- How long do I have until my plot is re-inspected?
- How long does a cultivation or weed notice remain active?
- What about other notices such as rubbish notices or tree notices, how long do such notices remain active?
- How will I know if I have failed an inspection?
- I have been terminated because I did not act upon a notice, what should I do?
- I moved address and all the paperwork relating to my inspections and terminations were sent to my old address – does the termination still stand?
- Probationary tenancy and inspections
- New tenants might struggle in the first year of cultivation - is this taken into account during inspections?
- How are probationary inspections different to normal inspections?
- What happens after my first year of tenancy has ended?
- Nuisance notices
- What is a nuisance notice?
- How does the nuisance notice effect my tenancy?
- Who verifies that a nuisance event has occurred prior to a notice being issued?
- I have received a nuisance notice, how can I avoid a second notice and possible plot termination?
Plot inspections, notices and terminations
I have received a cultivation or weed notice yet I consider my plot to be in good order – what action should I take?
First of all you should check your plot number as this might be a case of mistaken identity. If your plot is not clearly numbered and/or the number is not visible from the path then you might have received a neighbours’ notice. Take a look at the plots next to you – if one is in poor condition then this might well be the case. In this instance you must clearly number your plot and let the council and your site representative know the situation, so that we can issue the notice to the correct plot.
If your number is clearly visible and it corresponds with the number on the notice then you need to consider the wording of the allotment rules, in relation to the notice you have received and take appropriate action. You must act within the time provided and correct the issue prior to the date given for your re-inspection.
The most common reason for notices is non-cultivation; this can be due to excessive areas of lawn and unkempt or non-cropped bed areas. In order to avoid a cultivation notice you need to be actively growing crops or flowers on around 75 per cent of the allotment area – simply annually clearing areas is not enough and the rules state that you must be actively growing crops or flowers.
How can I grow fruit trees without breaching cultivation rules?
Planting large areas of fruit trees that exceed the 25 per cent of your allotment plot allowed within your leisure area will be in breach of rules. In order to grow fruit trees and include these within your cultivated area you will need to grow crops underneath trees. All fruit trees must be kept to an acceptable height so that they do not cause excessive shading. This rule does not apply if you are growing bush fruit such as raspberries or currants.
What happens if I fail to act on a notice?
It is essential that you act on any notice you receive, as failing a re-inspection can lead to tenancy termination. If you have mitigating circumstances such as a medical condition then you must let your site representative or the council know.
If you are still in doubt about why you received a cultivation or weed notice then you should initially contact your site representative and seek their advice.
I have received a notice but I am struggling to keep up with the work and I’m afraid I might lose my plot, what action should I take?
You have two options – firstly you can take on a co-worker and attempt to address the issue on the notice before the re-inspection. However you will need to act swiftly.
Alternatively, if you have a full size plot of 250 square metres or more – then the council will rescind a notice if the plot holder returns half of their plot. The council offers this option as it has been found that smaller plot size of 125 square metres is more manageable for tenants with less time to spare.
I am struggling with cultivating my large plot, how do I go about splitting it down to a half plot?
If you wish to split your plot then you should contact both the council and your site representative. Arrangements will be made to divide your plot equally in two.
What is the difference between a weed notice and a cultivation notice?
A weed notice relates to weed infestation on existing beds while a cultivation notice relates to the area you have under cultivation. If you have a weed notice then you need to clear your beds of weeds and have a tidy up. If you have a cultivation notice then you need to increase the area you are cultivating.
Of the two, the cultivation notice will tend to require more work to put right. However both notices, if they are failed during re-inspection – can lead to tenancy termination. In order to ensure that you do not find yourself in breach of cultivation rules during your re-inspection it is essential that you work to the updated allotments rulebook v.3 (PDF 280KB)
How can I ensure that my level of cultivation is acceptable?
You need to look at your rulebook and consider why you might have breached cultivation rules. The usual reason for receiving a cultivation notice is under-sized beds, excessive lawn and path areas and excessive areas of tree fruit.
The council expect cultivation to cover 75 per cent of the allotment plot – cultivation includes the growing of crops and flowers, but not lawn or wildflower area. This leaves 25 per cent of the allotment area for your shed, storage or lawn area. Glass houses and poly tunnels are included within the cultivated area, as are compost bins.
Who inspected my plot and what do plot inspectors work to?
Inspections are made by council officers. Inspections follow the allotment rules and the tenant should always refer to the rules after they have received a notice, in order to understand how they must act to return their plot to an acceptable condition.
I want more advice on how to avoid failing my re-inspection, who can I talk to about this?
Your best source of advice is your allotment rule book as well as supplementary advice such as these ‘frequently asked questions’. You might also talk to your fellow allotment holders. Your site representative will also provide feedback on notices and should be able to provide advice on your particular plot.
I received a notice but I will need more time than that specified on the notice to put the problem right, what should I do?
Firstly, you need to inform the site representative of your situation. In exceptional circumstances, such as a medical condition or family bereavement, then the tenant may contact the council directly and extra time will be considered. This should be done prior to the earliest re-inspection date.
If you need more time to move large quantities of materials such as those identified in a rubbish notice, then extra time can be arranged to allow tenants to remove waste. However this must be requested prior to re-inspection.
I have received a ‘getting there’, letter after a re-inspection. What does this mean?
If you have received a cultivation, tree or weed notice, and have only had time to make a start on addressing the issue raised on the notice, then the council officer can issue a ‘getting there’, letter during re-inspection. However a ‘getting there’, notice will only be issued if the inspecting officer can clearly see a significant amount of work has been undertaken. The ‘getting there’, notice will automatically give the tenant a further month prior to re-inspection. If the tenant fails re-inspection then the tenancy shall be terminated.
I received a notice but I am unable to act upon the order because I have been ill, or because I have other mitigating personal reasons. What can I do to avoid failing my follow up inspection and being terminated?
You should immediately instruct your site representative and also contact the Allotments Team, either by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (01273) 292929. Be prepared to submit some form of documentary proof of any medical condition.
If documentary proof is needed then please send a photocopied document to:
Brighton & Hove City Council – The allotments service
How long do I have until my plot is re-inspected?
The notice should give you a period following the date on the letter, typically this will be 28 days after the date on the letter. However if a letter is posted on a Friday then 31 days will usually be given.
A re-inspection will be made no sooner than the date specified on the notice. However your plot may be re-inspected after the date given on your notice. Ideally we aim to make a re-inspection within four to eight weeks depending on weather and resources.
How long does a cultivation or weed notice remain active?
Cultivation or weed notices remain active for a period of three calendar months after the notice is issued. After this period the notice will no longer be active and the council will take no further action on the notice. The only reason for a notice remaining active over this period will be as a result of the council agreeing with the tenant a specified future re-inspection date.
What about other notices such as rubbish notices or tree notices, how long do such notices remain active?
Notices that are not time sensitive – being notices not relating to cultivation - will remain open and active. The council may take action at any time in the future on such a notice. Especially if the problem is one that may lead to a potentially dangerous or polluting situation, or might cause a health and safety hazard. If you have received a rubbish notice or a tree notice then you should take action. If you require extra time to resolve the issue raised in the notice then you must contact the council and arrange extra time.
How will I know if I have failed an inspection?
You will receive a notice by mail from the council. This notice will specify which area of the rules you are in breach of and the minimum soonest date you will be subject to re-inspection.
I have been terminated because I did not act upon a notice, what should I do?
You will have been given a set period to clear your plot of any materials or crops that you wish to keep. This period will normally be 28 days from the issuing of the termination letter. After this period your plot will be cleared and re-let to new tenants and you will no longer have a right to enter or cultivate the plot.
I moved address and all the paperwork relating to my inspections and terminations were sent to my old address – does the termination still stand?
Yes, the termination will stand. It is the responsibility of the tenant to keep the council informed of their current address. If a tenant has failed to inform the council of a change of address then the process of inspection and termination stands and the tenant must vacate the allotment.
Probationary tenancy and inspections
New tenants might struggle in the first year of cultivation - is this taken into account during inspections?
During the first 12 months, new tenants are within a probationary period and as result inspections are less demanding. Inspecting officers will want to see half of the plot cultivated within this first year, new tenants will not be inspected during their first three months of tenancy so they have a grace period to start digging.
We advise that you also manage the areas of your plot that are not cropped in the first 12 months by mulching with a weed suppressing membrane (not carpet). This will condition the soil for when you are ready to grow crops and will stop weed growth. Alternatively you could strim down grass and tall weeds in the non-cropped areas.
How are probationary inspections different to normal inspections?
Due to the number of new tenants who take on plots and fail to cultivate within the first year we now operate a probationary inspection system. This inspection is less demanding, but if you fail this inspection then your tenancy is terminated. If you take on a plot but fail to cultivate 50% of it the council will cancel your tenancy and take back the plot for re-letting. This probationary period lasts 12 months from when you signed your tenancy agreement.
What happens after my first year of tenancy has ended?
In year two you enter the normal inspection process as described above.
What is a nuisance notice?
A nuisance notice will only apply to an activity that occurs on a specific occasion. A nuisance notice is issued after a breach of allotment rules. This will usually be an act such as:
- having a bonfire that is in breach of site rules
- having a dog roaming free on allotments without a lead
- an act of anti-social or immoral behaviour
- illegal use of a hose for unattended watering
- sleeping over-night on allotment land
- any act that is considered unsafe, either to yourself or others
How does the nuisance notice effect my tenancy?
The specific nuisance notice (which will have a name relating to the offence, such as bonfire nuisance notice) will be entered on to your tenancy records. The first notice will be a warning, however if you commit a second identical offence then your tenancy will be terminated.
Who verifies that a nuisance event has occurred prior to a notice being issued?
Either a council officer or a site representative can note that a nuisance has occurred and pass this information on to the allotments service.
I have received a nuisance notice, how can I avoid a second notice and possible plot termination?
Read your rules in relation to the notice you have received and ensure that you do not breach the rules on a second occasion. If this is still not clear then seek advice from your site representative.