New research from Churchill Home Insurance1 reveals that 5.8 million Brits (11 per cent) have been involved in arguments with their neighbours over rubbish in the last 12 months. People who have exchanged ‘trash talk’ with their neighbours have argued on average five times in the last 12 months alone.
The biggest bugbear for householders is when a neighbour leaves rubbish outside their home for a long period of time, with this stated in over a quarter (27 per cent) of disputes over waste. Rows have also been caused by neighbours leaving rubbish outside for other people to clear up (23 per cent), putting the wrong waste in someone else’s bins (22 per cent) and leaving rubbish out in bin bags which were then destroyed by wildlife (20 per cent). Another source of frustration is when neighbours allow trash to build up without disposing of it by taking it to the tip (20 per cent).
Table one: Causes of rubbish disputes between neighbours
|Cause of rubbish or bin disputes||Percentages (%)||Number of people|
|Left rubbish outside their home for a long period of time||27%||2,285,762|
|Left rubbish for someone else to tidy up||23%||1,922,118|
|Put general waste refuse in one of your containers that it wasn’t intended for (e.g. paper recycling or garden waste)||22%||1,844,194|
|Left rubbish out in bin bags that were destroyed by wildlife||20%||1,740,296|
|Let rubbish build up without disposing of it||20%||1,688,347|
|Using your rubbish bins because their own were overflowing||19%||1,636,398|
|Blocked your path or driveway with their rubbish bin||17%||1,428,601|
|Stole your rubbish bin||13%||1,116,906|
|Used your bin to dispose of bad smelling rubbish||12%||1,064,957|
|Damaged your rubbish bin||10%||805,211|
|Left rubbish on your property||8%||701,313|
|Taken rubbish out of your bin to keep||7%||623,390|
Source: Churchill Home Insurance 2018
One in eight (16 per cent) of those who have had a dispute have taken drastic action and reported their neighbour to the council because of arguments over rubbish. Neighbourhood rows have also seen ‘trash talk’ become aggressive (nine per cent), with five per cent even resulting in a physical altercation or a call to the police (also five per cent).
These arguments can also end up costing householders large sums as they have had to pay for rubbish to be collected, pay fees for bin cleaning or even fork out for legal fees to resolve the despite. The average amount spent by those who have been in dispute with their neighbour about their rubbish is £117, however, one in 20 (six per cent) have had to spend as much as £500.
Martin Scott, head of Churchill home insurance said: “Living next to a poorly maintained property or a pile of rubbish can not only have an impact on you both emotionally and financially, but could also affect the long-term value of your home if you were to sell in the future.
“Council enforcement of environmental regulations is crucial to ensure the actions of antisocial neighbours don’t blight the lives of others. If a direct and reasonable conversation isn’t able to resolve the situation, it could be worth contacting your local council to either arrange mediation or put in place an enforcement order so your neighbours clean up their act.”
Semi-detached properties are a hotbed of bin wars and rubbish disputes (30 per cent), followed by detached (25 per cent) and terraced houses (16 per cent). Those living in purpose-built flats (14 per cent) and flats in converted buildings (six per cent) have fewer rubbish rows.
London is the bin war capital of the UK, with over a quarter (27 per cent) of those living in the city having rowed with neighbours over rubbish in the last 12 months. The North East (21 per cent) and Yorkshire (15 per cent) complete the top three. At the other end of the scale is Wales, where just two per cent have argued over rubbish, the South West (four per cent) and West Midlands (five per cent).
|Region||Percentage of people who have had disputes with neighbours in the last 12 months over rubbish|
|Yorkshire & Humberside||15%|
|East of England||5%|
Source: Churchill Home Insurance 2018
Tips for dealing with neighbourhood disputes2:
- Try to solve the problem informally by having a reasonable conversation with your neighbour
- If your neighbour rents their property, try and speak to the landlord or managing agent
- If raising the issue informally doesn’t work, consider a mediation service (often supplied by your local council)
- If the complaint involves a statutory nuisance, like a build up of rubbish, consider making an official complaint to the local council
- Only contact the police if the neighbour is breaking the law
- Legal action through the courts, but this should be considered a last resort
For further information on Churchill Home Insurance please visit https://www.churchill.com/home-insurance