England and Wales are jam-packed with ‘off-the-wall’ Laws which probably all of us have fallen foul of at some time.
Although some of the below are unlikely to be enforced, take a look at some of these strange items from our statute books which you may fall foul of in or around your own home.
1. Switching your burglar alarm on
A very prudent thing to do and certainly advisable! However, did you know that under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, it is illegal to turn on your burglar alarm unless you have a ‘nominated key holder’. So there you have it, leave a key with a friendly and trustworthy neighbour who can turn the alarm off in case it goes off, or risk falling foul of this law!
2. Asking a stranger for parking change
Do you live in an area where you or a visitor has to put money in the meter to park outside? Arrived home from work and realised you have no change? Ask a passer by for loose change. What’s the harm? Well, under the Vagrancy Act 1824, which is technically still in force, this could be classed as begging and see you spend a short while in the ‘house of correction’.
3. Dressing up as a soldier at your fancy dress house warming party
It is an offence to impersonate the holder of a certificate of service or discharge which carries up to a 3 month jail term under the Seamen’s and Soldiers’ False Character Act 1906. Better set it as a movie theme instead (unless it’s Top Gun or Saving Private Ryan!)
4. Carrying your DIY shopping home
So you’ve just bought your new home and want to carry out your renovations, right? How are you going to get it home? Well, as it turns out, hopefully with great thought! Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 makes it illegal for you to ‘…roll or carry any cask, tub, hoop or wheel, or any ladder, plank, pole, show board or placard, upon any footway, except for the purpose of loading or unloading any cart or carriage, or of crossing the footway.’ So technically, that tub of tile adhesive you carried home could have landed you with a £500.00 fine. Come to think of it, better be careful with that ‘For Sale’ board you are taking down too!
5. Handling a Salmon suspiciously
Fancy a nice fishy tea for the first night in your new home? Careful where you get it from and how you carry it back! You may feel the force of Section 32 of the Salmon Act 1986 if you handle it in suspicious circumstances.
6. Allowing your kids to play knock-a-door run
OK, let’s be honest, who hasn’t played this to some degree in a Yorkshire childhood? You may not have realised that it’s an offence to ”willfully and wantonly disturb any inhabitant by pulling or ringing any doorbell or knocking at any door without lawful excuse.’ Falling foul of 1854’s Metropolitan Police Act could land you with a £500.00 fine!
7. Playing in the Street
A staple of life for many a Yorkshire lad or lass! Who’d have thought it could be illegal? Well, according to 1839’s Metropolitan Police Act, our Victorian cousins made it an offence to ‘fly any kite or play at any game to the annoyance of the inhabitants…in any Street’. What would Mary Poppins think?
8. Not carrying a spare ‘poo bag’
If you are planning on living in Daventry with your pooch, you better stock up on these and keep them in your coat pockets! The Local Council introduced a £100.00 fine for anyone caught not carrying a ‘poo bag’, so even if you’ve binned the full one, you could still be fined!
9. Cleaning your doormat
Again, the rather tight Metropolitan Police Act Section 60 means that beating your door mat outside after 8am could land you with a £500.00 fine! Wipe your feet indeed!
10. Hanging out your washing
Check the Restrictive Covenants carefully, especially if you’re in a leasehold, new build or relatively new property. Certain properties restrict where and even whether you are allowed to hang out your washing! Breach this, and you could face a penalty.