How to submit a query about invoices for fire hazard removal on private land.
The City does send out invoices for fire hazard removal on private land. The invoice is not a fine. It is an account for fire hazard removal works undertaken by the City on behalf of the landowner and it incorporates an administration fee.
Submit a query
If you have received an invoice for fire hazard removal works you can submit your queries online.
Explanation of your invoice
You have received an invoice because you failed to comply with the work specified in a Fire Prevention Notice that was sent to you by the City. The notice provided a timeframe for fire hazard removal to be undertaken, such as grass slashing or removal of flammable material.
As these works were not undertaken in the specified time frame the work was carried out by the City on your behalf. The Fire Prevention Notice was issued by the City under the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 or Fire Rescue Victoria Act 1958 to ensure that the necessary steps to protect your life and property and the wider community were undertaken.
Regardless of receiving a fire prevention notice, property owners are legally obliged to keep their property clear of fire hazards.
Clear explanatory notes were attached to the Fire Prevention Notice that was sent to you. The notes explained that if the work was not completed by the date on the notice, the Municipal Fire Prevention Officer, or an agent acting on behalf of City, may enter your land and take the necessary steps to complete the works (as allowed per section 118 of the Local Government Act 2020).
The notes also provided details regarding options to appeal the notice or request an extension of time. If this did not occur the City has organised for a contractor to undertake the works.
There is no legal process to appeal this invoice as costs have now been incurred by the City per the CFA Act, FRV Act and Local Government Act and must be paid. However, the City does welcome any queries you may have.
If a property owner fails to pay this invoice, they can be taken to court by the City to recover the cost including any interest accrued on the money owed (as allowed per section 118 of the Local Government Act 2020)
In addition, the City may also serve a Fire Prevention Infringement for failing to comply with the notice, which would require a payment of 10 penalty units ($1849.20 - current figure until 1 July 2023) within a specified time. Failure to pay the infringement penalty by the due date may result in further enforcement action and may incur further costs.
However, the City will review you situation if you have incorrectly received an invoice for a property you do not own or have sold, or if you are experiencing financial hardship.
Circumstances that may be considered
These circumstances may be considered in relation to your invoice received for fire hazard removal on your property:
- You received an invoice for a property that you have sold or do not own.
- You had been approved for an extension of time to complete the works but found a contractor had been and undertaken the work before this agreed date.
- You are experiencing financial hardship and require a payment plan.
Circumstances that will not be considered
- Objecting to the works is not grounds for query as the opportunity to appeal the notice has passed.
- Circumstances as to why you had not completed the work by the due date is not grounds for an alteration to the invoice, unless you had negotiated an extension of time.
- Having been away and not receiving the notice as a result, is not grounds for an alteration to the invoice. All property owners are legally required to maintain their property to reduce fire hazard and risk to neighbouring properties and the community.
- Stating that tenants or another party should have done the work is not grounds for an alteration to the invoice as it is the obligation of the property owner to ensure that the works occur.
- Not seeing photographic evidence is not grounds for an alteration to the invoice, however you can apply to see the photographs.
- Not having provided permission for the works to occur is not grounds for an alteration to the invoice as the City can legally enter your land and take the steps specified to complete the works (as allowed under sections 225 and 232 of the Local Government Act 1989).