Recently the city sent a crew to mow my grass without notifying me or giving me any advance notice of any kind. Did they violate my rights by sending these people without my permission? (Details below)

My front yard was in full compliance with local ordinance of 6" and below grass length. My backyard was in violation. I woke up to an individual walking past by back window. Important note: my backyard is not accessible from the front without the gate being unlatched from the backyard. I could not communicate with any of the individuals who "serviced" my yard. I did manage to figure out they were hired by the city, mostly from the bill they sent me.

Edit- City billed me directly (Bryan, TX). Bill lines up with "services" provided and address on city website.

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    Did you 100% confirm that the bill was sent by the city? – David Schwartz Jul 19 '16 at 2:13
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    oh, the land of the free. luckily it's illegal in spain to trespass into someone's property, be it an officer or a city worker, no matter how tall is a vicious patch of grass. </sarcasm> did you got any legal notice? did they have an order signed by a judge or a city official to do so? did you notify them in any way that they were in private property and that they should leave? those are key points. also, it would be nice to know which state. – CptEric Jul 19 '16 at 6:11
  • What city and state? Does the contact info on the bill jive with what you can find on the official agency webpage or phonebook listing? – Freiheit Jul 19 '16 at 13:32
  • Bryan TX, and bill does jive - City of Bryan Finance Dept. (Great Name btw "freedom" love it) – Rampallian Jul 20 '16 at 14:20

Your rights notwithstanding, the government has the power to do such things under appropriate circumstances. First, you would have to be in violation of some ordinance, for instance in Columbus OH you are a violator if the grass is over 12". This should generate a notice informing you what the issue is and giving a deadline for remedy. If you don't comply by the deadline, they are then empowered to send out guys with tools, and the city will bill you for the work. You could call them and ask what the deal is. They might say "We put the notice on your gate", or "we mailed it to you". From a legal POV, the onus is on them to be sure that you're notified. It would be a good idea to verify that this isn't a scam.


Bryan TX kindly provides a video about code enforcement, and gives a link where you can go directly to the section of interest (starting 0:43). Your description of the situation is at variance with what they say is the law (12"; 7 day advance notice whereafter they will correct the violation. They also say no notice is required for second violation within a year; $100 administration fee added to costs; lien will be placed on property if unpaid).

I assume that your back yard is publicly visible: they recognize that "when the area observed is plainly visible, from a vantage point where the Code Officer has the right to be there, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy". That could include visible from a neighbor's property if the inspector has permission from the neighbor to be there. Otherwise, there's a simmering 4th Amendment problem (assuming that they didn't get a search warrant).

  • In Ohio ? How would they distinguish a crop then ? – mckenzm Jul 19 '16 at 5:59
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    @mckenzm the distinction between crops and grass is based on the location. Anything found on land designated as farmland is considered a crop, EVEN the berm growth. – Nzall Jul 19 '16 at 10:51
  • No Notice, just showed up – Rampallian Jul 20 '16 at 14:22

Depending on where you are, there are bylaws that enable the government to do that, and much more.

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