Whitehorse City Council

Local Laws, EPA, MFB Fines/Infringements

> Local Laws, EPA, MFB fines/infringements 
> Appealing a fine/Requesting an extension of time
> Unsafe and unsightly building sites fine
> Fire hazard fine
> Dumped rubbish and litter fine
> Basic appeal information
> How to pay the fine/infringement 
> Not paying the fine/infringement
> Magistrate’s court 

Council endeavours to provide residents, visitors and businesses to Whitehorse with a safe and welcoming place to live, visit or run a business.

Council prefers to achieve these goals through education programs so that visitors, residents and business owners know what is expected of them. However, there are a number of laws that authorised Council Officers may need to take enforcement action to achieve the Council goals.

Local Laws, EPA, MFB fines/infringements 

Whitehorse City Council takes a consultative approach to enforcement. Council Officers will generally approach residents and businesses who are contravening the Whitehorse Local Law or state legislation and ask them to correct the contravention. If the resident or business fails to voluntarily correct a breach, Council may initiate enforcement action including issuing a Notice to Comply. The Notice to Comply can be either in writing or verbal and will clearly set out the actions a resident or business need to undertake to correct any breach and the period of time they have to correct the breach.

Some residents or businesses that have been asked or directed to correct breaches in the past may be fined immediately without being issued a Notice to Comply.

Local Laws, EPA, MFB Fines/Infringement costs

Offences and the fine/infringement amounts are detailed in the following legislation:

The fine amounts for the Victorian State laws associated with those offences are reviewed annually by the state government. Council has no discretion in setting the state legislation penalty fee amount.

The fine amounts for the Whitehorse Community Local Law 2014 are reviewed annually by Council as part of the Council budget process.

Appealing a fine/Requesting an extension of time

Following is information about the most common infringements. The recipient of any infringement notice may lodge an appeal requesting the matter to be reviewed.

Unsafe or unsightly building sites fine

Council through its Local Laws framework aims to protect the amenity of the area and Council assets and provide safe passage for pedestrians and vehicles past the site. Council regularly receives calls from residents concerned about the condition of building sites, the blocking of pathways and roads and damage to footpaths. Maintaining access during building works is critical to ensuring public safety and the safety of workers in the area.

  • Building sites must maintain clear unhindered access to the pathway for all pedestrians including; the elderly, people with a disability, people who use mobility aids and people who use prams.
  • The footpath and nature strip should be free of dirt, mud, cables and cords, vehicles, waste collection bins, rubbish or any other obstruction.
  • The footpath and nature strip should not be left with holes or uneven surfaces and made safe at all times during building works.
  • Working on or from the footpath is not permissible as access to the pathway will be blocked. This includes people building a fence, cutting construction material or using other equipment or materials on or from the footpath.
  • Footings that support gantries, hoardings or barriers may pose a trip hazard; ensure the footings are not on the path of travel.

If a person is detected contravening the Whitehorse Local Law or other legislation related to building sites, a verbal or written Notice to Comply or an infringement may be issued to the builder.

The following commonly presented reasons are NOT CONSIDERED VALID for the withdrawal of building site-related infringement notice:

  • The alleged offence is not the building company’s responsibility, it was the tradesmen who breached the requirements
  • I did not understanding the Notice to Comply
  • English is not my first language and I did not understand my responsibilities
  • Being new to the area and unfamiliar with the Local or Victorian Law requirements/responsibilities for building sites, regardless of the whether the resident is from Victoria, interstate or overseas
  • Being out of the state or overseas when a Notice to Comply is due
  • Being on a restricted income or having insufficient funds to pay the fine/infringement (NOTE: Victorian legislation does not allow for student or pensioner discounts for fines). A payment arrangement (extension in time to pay the fine) is available in these cases. Application can be made by using the pdf icon  Application Form for Local Laws EPA or MFB Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (98.53kB)
  • Believing that it is unconstitutional for a Council to issue a fine/infringement
  • Being a first offence or having an excellent record prior to the issuing of the fine/infringement.
Fire hazard fine

From November each year, Council officers inspect properties in the City of Whitehorse to ensure that long grass and any materials that may pose a fire hazard are removed. In addition to being a fire hazard, overgrown properties also look unsightly and may attract snakes and vermin and detract from the amenity of the municipality.

Where it is determined that a property is a fire hazard a Fire Prevention Notice will be sent to the landowner giving them a direction to remove the fire hazard from their land.

Grass should be cut and maintained to a height of 10cm or less. Other potential fire hazards include stored dry grass, dry tree branches and dry or dead vegetation.

Under the Metropolitan Fire Brigades Act 1958, you can be fined up to 500 penalty units if you allow your property to become a fire hazard. You should also be aware that if a notice is not complied with, the land may be compulsorily cleared with all costs being passed onto the property owner, in addition to the issued fines.

The following commonly presented reasons are NOT CONSIDERED VALID for the withdrawal of fire hazard-related infringement notice:

  • The alleged offence is not the property owner’s responsibility, it is the responsibility of the tenant
  • I did not understanding the Fire Prevention Notice
  • English is not my first language and I did not understand my responsibilities
  • Being new to the area and unfamiliar with the Local or Victorian Law requirements/responsibilities maintaining their property, regardless of the whether the resident is from Victoria, interstate or overseas
  • Being out of the state or overseas when a Fire Prevention Notice is due
  • Being on a restricted income or having insufficient funds to pay the fine/infringement (NOTE: Victorian legislation does not allow for student or pensioner discounts for fines). A payment arrangement (extension in time to pay the fine) is available in these cases. Application can be made by using the pdf icon  Application Form for Local Laws EPA or MFB Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (98.53kB)
  • Believing that it is unconstitutional for a Council to issue a fine/infringement
  • Being a first offence or having an excellent record prior to the issuing of the fine/infringement.
Dumped rubbish or litter fine

Litter is unsightly and dangerous. It can cause injury to people and wildlife. It encourages pest animals such as rats, mice and seagulls as well as the spread of germs and disease. It includes cigarette butts, dog litter, general litter, hard rubbish, dumped rubbish and over-filled rubbish bins. It can be from a trailer load of rubbish that hasn't been secured properly or the grass clippings that you sweep into the gutter.

Heavy fines may be issued to offenders under the Environmental Protection Act Vic 1970. Council's Community Law Officers are authorised to issue fines on the spot to offenders.

Dumping rubbish – old furniture, electronic items and other household waste – on the footpath or other public land is illegal. It is also unattractive, dangerous and can make people living nearby feel that the area is unsafe and dirty. Council may issue people found responsible for dumping rubbish with significant fines.

The following commonly presented reasons are NOT CONSIDERED VALID for the withdrawal of litter or dumped rubbish-related infringement notice:

  • The alleged offence is not the property owner’s responsibility, it is the responsibility of the tenant who has since left the property and the owner does not know where they have gone
  • I did not understanding the Notice to Comply
  • English is not my first language and I did not understand my responsibilities
  • Being new to the area and unfamiliar with the Local or Victorian Law requirements/responsibilities maintaining their property, regardless of the whether the resident is from Victoria, interstate or overseas
  • Being out of the state or overseas when a Notice to Comply is due
  • Being on a restricted income or having insufficient funds to pay the fine/infringement (NOTE: Victorian legislation does not allow for student or pensioner discounts for fines). A payment arrangement (extension in time to pay the fine) is available in these cases. Application can be made by using the pdf icon  Application Form for Local Laws EPA or MFB Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (98.53kB).
  • Believing that it is unconstitutional for a Council to issue a fine/infringement
  • Being a first offence or having an excellent record prior to the issuing of the fine/infringement.

In accordance with the Infringements Act (2006) you can request in writing for your fine/infringement to be withdrawn if you believe that it is not valid for any of the following reasons:

If you believe the fine/infringement was incorrectly issued or you wish to apply for a payment arrangement or you would like to have your fine/infringement heard in court, you must send your appeal letter or an pdf icon  Application Form for Local Laws EPA or MFB Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (98.53kB) so that it is received by Council prior to the due date of the fine/infringement. You may send your appeal to the following addresses:

Infringement appeals.html Panel
Whitehorse City Council
Locked Bag 2
Nunawading Delivery Centre 3131

Or email customer.service@whitehorse.vic.gov.au

PLEASE NOTE:

  • Additional charges may apply if the appeal is received after the payment due date.
  • Council will only consider one appeal unless there is additional evidence you can provide to support a follow-up appeal.
Appeal information required from you

If you do not provide important supporting information or documentation with your appeal, we will have to contact you and request this information which will inconvenience you and delay the appeal process or the appeal will be rejected.
Council cannot process your appeal without the following information:

  • The infringement number (from the infringement notice/fine)*
  • Your full name*
  • Your postal address*
  • A contact phone number*
  • A contact email address (If you have one, providing an email address could assist in timely information sharing)
  • An explanation of why you believe the fine/infringement should be withdrawn*
  • Whatever relevant supporting documentation you can provide – see table below.
    Mandatory information

Please note: In accordance with the Infringements Act (2006), a postal address is required to enable Council to provide you with a response in writing.

Please be advised that if the required information is NOT received by the fine/infringement due date, the infringement will progress and may incur additional costs and further action.

For your convenience, all the required information is detailed in the pdf icon  Application Form for Local Laws EPA or MFB Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (98.53kB).

Documentation from you to support an appeal

The following table details the supporting documentation that could assist the Infringement appeals.html Panel to make a timely decision on your appeal or request for a payment arrangement. All supporting documentation must be relevant to the fine/infringement.

Note: Failure to provide supporting documentation may result in a delay in the process or a decision will be made without it.

Reason Example Supporting documentation
Contrary to law Incorrect offence recorded. Evidence (such as photos) or detailed information of why you believe an offence was not committed.
Incorrect identity of the person responsible or incorrect alleged offence location An incorrect location was listed on the (infringement notice)
The owner or builder's name is incorrect.
Evidence you were not the owner of the property at the time. You may nominate the correct owner or builder using the pdf icon  Application Form for Local Laws EPA or MFB Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (98.53kB).
Evidence that the alleged offence location is correct.
Special circumstances "Special circumstances" as defined under the Infringements Act (2006) Evidence from you medical practitioner or social worker that your condition renders you unable to understand the law or control your conduct at the time of the fine/infringement.
Requesting a payment plan (extension of time) Financial hardship. Copies of whatever supporting evidence you can provide to assist your appeal such as your pension or student card.

The fine/infringement review process

The appeals.html process is bound by the Infringements (Reporting and Prescribed Details and Forms) Regulations (2006), which allows up to 90 days for a response from Council. Once Council receives your appeal with the appropriate contact information and appeal detail, action on your infringement is suspended and your infringement will be placed on hold pending a review.

All appeals.html are reviewed by the Whitehorse City Council Infringement appeals.html Panel. The Panel will take into account all available information including:

If insufficient information is provided by you, we may need to contact you for additional details before reviewing the fine/infringement. If the requested information is not received by the date specified in the request for additional information, a decision will be made based on the information at hand.

Once all the information has been received, the fine/infringement will be reviewed and a response will be sent by mail to you once a decision has been reached.

The role of Councillors

It is within your rights to contact the Mayor and/or your local Councillor about a fine/infringement. However, the Mayor and Councillors will refer the matter to the Infringement appeals.html Panel in accordance with the regular appeal process.

Successful payment arrangement appeal

If your appeal for a payment arrangement is successful, Council will notify you in writing informing you of the new payment arrangement.

Unsuccessful payment arrangement appeal

If your appeal for a payment arrangement is unsuccessful, Council will notify you in writing indicating the payment due date. Council will only consider one appeal unless there is additional evidence you can provide to support your case.

If you are not satisfied with the decision, you may elect to have the matter heard in Court.

Successful fine appeal

If your fine/infringement appeal is successful, Council will notify you in writing indicating that the fine/infringement has been withdrawn. This may also include an official warning.

Unsuccessful fine appeal 

Should your fine/infringement appeal be unsuccessful, you will be advised in writing of a new payment date. Council will only consider one appeal unless there is additional evidence you can provide to support your case.

If you decide to pay the fine/infringement by the due date, you will not need to take any further action. However, if the payment is not received by the due date, the matter may escalate and you may incur additional costs or it may result in appearing before a magistrate.

If you are not satisfied with the decision, you may elect to have the matter heard in Court.

How to pay the fine/infringement 
 

In person:
Payments may be made at any of Council’s three Customer Service Centres:  

Service Centre Address Cashier hours
Nunawading Civic Centre 379-397 Whitehorse Road, Nunawading 3131 Weekdays 8.40am to 5pm
Box Hill Town Hall Customer Service Centre 1022 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill 3128 Weekdays 9am to 5pm
Forest Hill Customer Service Centre Shop 275, Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre, Canterbury Road, Forest Hill 3131 Weekdays 9am to 5pm
Saturday 9am to 12pm

By mail:
Cheque or money order payments can be mailed to Whitehorse City Council, Locked Bag 2, Nunawading Delivery Centre, 3131. Please ensure that you include your infringement no. with your mailed payment.

By phone:
Credit card phone payment is available by phoning 9697 5730. The service is provided by SecurePay.

Online:
Payment can be made by clicking on the Online Payment section of the website.

IMPORTANT: Please wait three days after the infringement date before you can pay the fine/infringement to allow for fine/infringement information to be loaded into the Council’s payment systems.

Not paying the fine/infringement

If a fine/infringement is not paid by the due date shown on the Infringement Notice, the issue gets escalated in the following way:

  • A reminder notice is issued to the registered owner of the animal, extending the time to pay and an additional fee.
  • Once the extension period ends, a second reminder is issued.
  • If the fine/infringement is not paid by the revised due date, the matter is referred to the Infringements Court, which adds a further fee.
  • The Infringement Court process adds additional costs and if an infringement is not paid, the matter will progress to the Sheriff’s Office where a warrant will be issued.
  • The registered owner or nominated person in charge of the animal at the time of the alleged offence can apply to the Infringements Court to have the matter revoked. If successful, the matter will return to Council for consideration. It will then either be withdrawn or proceed to open court.
  • If you wish to contest the fine/infringement further, you may choose to have the matter heard before a Magistrate.
Magistrate’s court

It is suggested prior to having the matter heard in front of a Magistrate, that you seek independent legal advice before taking this step. Should you decide not to seek legal advice, the information provided below may assist you.

To inform Council you wish to dispute the fine/infringement before a Magistrate you must inform Council in writing. Please complete the pdf icon  Application Form for Local Laws EPA or MFB Appeal Payment Arrangement or Court Appearance (98.53kB).

You will receive an acknowledgement that the matter will be heard in court and you will receive a summons in writing telling you the date, time and place of the hearing. If you succeed at the hearing, the fine/infringement will be withdrawn. If you are not successful, you will be required to pay the fine/infringement amount and any court and Council costs.

To help you with your day in court, refer to information on the Victorian Law Foundation website.