On 15th March 2018, The Council of Ministers approved a decree-law which determines that notices of mismanagement raised by the non-clearing of land will not take effect until May 31, if by that date the person responsible for the cleaning of land, has NOT undertaken (completed) the work by which they are legally bound. Legally this means fines can still be initiated at any time, but will only be processed and effected if the work has not been undertaken by 31st May 2018.

In meetings held between Safe Communities Portugal and the GNR SEPNA in Lisbon and the Territorial Command Headquarters Faro, the GNR have stated that fining is a last resort as the whole object is to ensure that for safety reasons people do comply. They stressed that “good sense” will prevail, in determining situations when fines are justified, and each situation will be scrutinized carefully at District Headquarters level. If enforcement action does become necessary, however, the Faro District Headquarters (covering the Algarve) have stated it will be undertaken as follows.

Firstly with immediate effect where a complaint has already been made to the GNR from the public about land that is overgrown, the GNR will visit that land. If it is found that the complaint is substantiated), they will, upon location of the owner, verbally inform the owner that he/she will be fined.  The GNR will take Identification details, although the owner will not receive any written notification at this stage. Should the land be cleaned by 31st May, however, no further action will be taken.

With effect from 2nd April the GNR will take more pro-active enforcement action focusing mainly in areas where risks to property are higher. If they visit and the owner has already started cleaning work, the owner will be told to finish it within a certain time period typically a week or so. When the GNR subsequently check and find it has not completed the owner will be told that they will be fined and procedure will be undertaken as above. If during such a visit the owner has NOT started land cleaning work where it is needed, the GNR will inform the owner they will be fined. However, if the work is then undertaken by 31st May then no further action will be taken.

Upon the GNR informing owners that a fines will be levied, they also inform councils as well, who can then take over the cleaning of land at cost to the owner.

If owners have been informed that they will be fined, but by 31st May work has not been completed, then they will receive a written notification by post of the fine, with 20 days to pay or appeal.

So, advice is to start cleaning work as soon as possible.