A woman has slammed a “ridiculous” £400 fly-tipping fine handed to her by Haringey Council for leaving her bin bag in the street ready for collection.

Isabelle Langlois, who lives in Park Road, Crouch End, said it was “really unfair” of the council to issue the “enormous” fixed penalty notice (FPN) after she left the bag out on the pavement 40 minutes before the designated time slot.

She said she could not afford to pay the penalty, adding that the council could have given her “a simple first warning” instead of fining her straight away.

The council argues residents are warned of the risks of fly-tipping fines and can leave their waste out at alternative times.

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But Isabelle, who has two jobs and had to claim Universal Credit after being furloughed, said it was “ridiculous” that leaving her bin bag outside had led to her being considered a fly-tipper.

“It was not in the middle of the road,” she said. “I was leaving my household rubbish out for collection, not avoiding any disposal costs – I pay this in my council tax.”

Because she lives in a flat behind a shop, Isabelle does not have a wheelie bin for her waste and has to leave her bin bags in the street during allotted hours before collections. She said she had left her bag out early because she needed to be elsewhere.

Isabelle pointed out that government guidance states that councils cannot issue penalties for “minor problems”, such as when householders “leave receptacles out for a few hours before a collection”. The guidance, published in 2018, says councils should first issue a written warning and only issue penalties when residents fail to comply.

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After Isabelle complained to the council that the penalty was “unfair and unreasonable”, she was told to pay up within ten days, although several days had already passed by the time she received the response.

“I’m sure people pay because they can’t be bothered,” Isabelle said. “It takes hours to do all the nice wording, so I know some people would just pay. It is a total rip-off.”

Crouch End ward councillor and Liberal Democrat opposition leader Luke Cawley-Harrison said the current system of timed collections “clearly isn’t working”, with “extortionate fines” being handed out to residents and businesses “who are acting in good faith and may put their bags out a few minutes before the allocated slots without any grace period”.

Cllr Cawley-Harrison added: “Fining residents and businesses and classing them as fly-tippers for doing the right thing to keep our streets tidy without any kind of warning or information letter defies all common sense and logic. I have asked the council’s leadership to review the current system and hope they will look at issuing notice letters first before jumping to £400 fines.”

A council spokesperson said: “We have timings in place for a reason as our timed collections for flats above shops limits the amount of time that waste is left out on our pavements which is necessary to keep our streets clean and free of rubbish. Rubbish left on the street for extended periods of time creates a range of issues, including vermin infestations and limited accessibility for pedestrians and those with disabilities.

“Our timed collections for flats above shops provides 14 opportunities each week for the service users to present their waste an hour prior to the collection time.

“We have informed residents that waste presented outside of the allocated time is considered fly-tipping, which will result in a £400 fine, with this clearly stated on our website and street signs. If residents are due to be away from home during their allocated time, it is advised that they present their waste on an alternative day.

“Like many other London boroughs, Haringey is largely affected by illegally dumped waste. It is a crime that negatively impacts our neighbourhoods and costs taxpayers in Haringey more than £3 million a year, and we will continue to work hard to prevent and enforce against it.”