Environmental Public Health Division

Neighborhood Nuisance

To file a Neighborhood Nuisance complaint click below:
Complaint Intake

HCPHES investigates complaints that may violate the Texas Neighborhood Nuisance Abatement Act, a law intended to eliminate public nuisances in unincorporated areas of Texas.  Examples of neighborhood nuisances include accumulated rubbish, standing water, conditions that harbor insects and rodents, abandoned swimming pools, high weeds and dilapidated structures. Following an investigation that results in a nuisance notification, a property owner or occupant has thirty days to eliminate the nuisance.  Failure to comply can result in civil action or criminal prosecution.

 Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Neighborhood Nuisance abatement Act (NNAA)?

The NNAA is a law designed to abate public nuisances in unincorporated areas of Texas Counties

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What does "Abatement" mean?

Abatement is the elimination of a nuisance by removal, repair, rehabilitation or demolition.

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What constitutes a "public nuisance"?

Public nuisances are grouped into six (6) categories:

  1. Keeping, storing or accumulating refuse on premises in a neighborhood unless the refuse is entirely contained in an enclosed receptacle.
  2. Keeping, storing, or accumulating rubbish or any unused, discarded or abandoned object, including newspapers, vehicles, tires and cans on premises in a neighborhood for ten days or more, unless the rubbish or object is completely enclosed within a building or is not visible from a public street.
  3. Maintaining premises in a manner that creates an unsanitary condition likely to attract or harbor mosquitoes, rodents, vermin or disease-carrying pests.
  4. Allowing weeds to grow on premises in a neighborhood if such weeds are located within 300 feet of another residence or commercial establishment.
  5. Maintaining a building in a manner that is structurally unsafe or constitutes a hazard to safety, health or public welfare because of inadequate maintenance, unsanitary condition, dilapidation, obsolescence, fire hazard, disaster, or abandonment.
  6. Maintaining a swimming pool or unoccupied property in a neighborhood that is not protected with a fence that is at least four feet high and that has a latched gate that cannot be opened by a child, or protected by a cover over the entire swimming pool that cannot be removed by a child.

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What is refuse?

Refuse is garbage, rubbish, or paper and other decayable or nondecayable waste, including vegetable matter and animal and fish carcasses.

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What is rubbish?

Rubbish is nondecayable waste from a public or private establishment or residence.

What are weeds?

Weeds are any rank or uncultivated vegetable growth or matter that is over 36 inches in height or, regardless of height, may create an unsanitary condition or become a harborage for rodents, vermin or any other disease-carrying pest.

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Do these six categories of public nuisances apply to any location with the unincorporated areas of Harris County?

No. Categories 1, 2, 4, 6 apply only to neighborhoods. A neighborhood is defined as a recorded, platted subdivision and within 300 feet of the platted subdivision.

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When does a nuisance become an offense?

A person commits an offense if the nuisance as defined above) remains unabated after the 30th day from which a person receives a notice from a county official, agent or employee to abate the nuisance. Each subsequent day a violation occurs is a separate offense.

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What procedures are available to the county to eliminate nuisances?

If a person fails to abate a nuisance after 30 days from receiving a notice, criminal prosecution or civil action may be initiated.

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What can you do to help the county eliminate public nuisances?

When a public nuisance (as defined in above) occurs in your neighborhood, you should first file a complaint with the Environmental Public Health Division of the Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services (HCPHES). If the nuisance remains unabated for 30 days after a county abatement notice has been received by the owner or occupant of the property in question, the health inspector may enlist your assistance in identifying the owner/operator and acting as a witness in court. In addition to criminal prosecution sought by HCPHES, you may file a civil suit in the county or district court.

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What about abandoned property?

If the property in violation of the Neighborhood Nuisance Abatement Act is abandoned, a title opinion is conducted to determine the ownership of the property. A notice is then sent to the owner of the property indicated in the title opinion. If the notice remains unabated and the notice to the owner is not received, a notice in a newspaper of general circulation is run for two consecutive days in a 10-day period. If the owner still does not respond to the notice the nuisance may be abated by the county with the cost being assessed to the owner and a lien placed on the property.

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Please Help us to Help You.

Before you call us to file a complaint:

  • Get as accurate an address as possible of the complaint (name of street, street number, nearby cross street).
  • Obtain the legal description of the property in question, if possible (name of subdivision, lot number, block number).
  • Obtain the name and address of the owner and/or name of the occupant of the property in question, if possible.

Call (713) 274-6300 to register a complaint Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

*Chapter 343 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.


Neighborhood Nuisance Abatement Act Brochure English | Espaņol


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Last updated:  March 30, 2012 
Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services
2223 West Loop South
Houston, TX 77027
Tel: (713) 439-6000