Are you breaking the law in your home? The bizarre laws you can still be fined for

Did you know you could face a fine for shaking a carpet outside? It's just one of many surprising house-related laws

bricked exterior of house with dark front door and railings
(Image credit: Future PLC/Andy Hook)

We’re all well aware of the most obvious laws in the UK. But did you know that there are some seemingly innocuous things you could be fined for right in your own home, that you may not know anything about?

We all know the typical loud parties, music, or damage to your neighbour's property can all land you in hot water. But there are a few house-related regulations you may not have realised could land you with a hefty fine! For example, fancy a pigsty in your front garden? You'll have to be sure it can be seen from the street...

From painting the front of your home to shaking your door mat, here are a few surprising housing regulations to watch out for.

narrow hallway with grey door and round hallway mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Woolley)

6 surprising things you could be fined for at home

1. Painting your home

You might assume that if you own your home, you’re free to do with it as you wish. But this isn’t necessarily true. According to Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, you could potentially be fined for painting the exterior of your home if the council feel it adversely affects the 'amenity' or 'desirability' of the area.

This is unlikely to be too much of a problem (unless you paint your home in multi-coloured polka-dots), but it’s worth noting that if you do want to paint the outside of your abode, you’re best off choosing an acceptable, neutral colour. And if you're unsure, consult your local council first.

2. Shaking your doormat

green front door with glass panels

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Experts at My Local Mortgage discovered that, in accordance with the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, if you are caught shaking a doormat outside your home after 8am, you could be liable for a fine of up to £1,000! The same law also applies to carpets, rugs, or mats.

Of course, you’re unlikely to be shoved into prison for such an inoffensive act nowadays, but experts note that many such laws simply haven’t yet been written out – and so technically, you could still be charged for them.

3. Getting your window sills cleaned or painted

According to another rather ancient law (from 1893), you could technically be fined for ‘permitting any servant to stand on the sill of any window to clean it or paint it’. Clearly, most of us don’t have 'servants' these days, but can you believe that it was (and apparently, still is!) actually illegal to get someone to paint your windowsill, or clean it, by standing on top of it? 

However, even if it wasn't illegal we'd still encourage you to forgo 'standing on' a window sill, and opt for the safer approach of using a ladder.

4. Leaving your alarm on without a key nearby

Ring Alarm 5 Piece Security Kit

(Image credit: Ring)

Now this one, we can understand – though it’s still a little concerning to realise we could be fined if our house alarm can’t be silenced and we can’t be contacted.

According to the experts at My Local Mortgage, incessant noise caused by house or car alarms could result in an ‘Abatement Notice’ – essentially, a notice to cease the noise. And, if the notice is ignored, you could eventually be liable for a fine of up to £5,000. In fact, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 makes it essential that you nominate a neighbour, friend or family member, who is able to enter your home and stop the home security system if necessary. Who knew?

5. Keeping a pigsty in your front garden

This likely won’t affect too many of us, but another obscure way in which you could be fined at home, is if you are caught keeping a visible pigsty in your front garden/patio. Under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, this would need to be hidden from public view – perhaps behind a wall or a hedge.

6. Having a staircase going through your kitchen

Bisca open staircase in a white modern home with a white kitchen beyond

(Image credit: Bisca)

For all of the home renovators out there, this is an important one to keep in mind. According to building regulations, it’s not generally allowed to have a staircase run through a kitchen, given that the kitchen is considered a fire risk, and it wouldn’t leave people upstairs anywhere to go should a fire break out. This one seems pretty reasonable to us!

Have you fallen foul of any of these housing laws?


 Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist and editor, now working in a freelance capacity specialising in homes and interiors, wellness, travel and careers. She was previously Lifestyle Editor at woman&home, overseeing the homes, books and features sections of the website. Having worked in the industry for over eight years, she has contributed to a range of publications including Ideal Home, Livingetc, T3,Goodto, Woman, Woman’s Own, and Red magazine