Bin Wars: 5.8 million people have 'rubbish arguments'

  • In the last 12 months, one in nine people have had ‘bin wars’ with their neighbours over rubbish
  • Greatest annoyance is neighbours leaving rubbish outside of their property for a long period of time
  • One in 20 (five per cent) of rubbish rows have led to physical fights

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

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 13% 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.

Regional findings

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
London 27%
North East 21%
Yorkshire & Humberside 15%
South East 13%
East Midlands 12%
Scotland 9%
North West 7%
East of England 5%
West Midlands 5%
South West 4%
Wales 2%

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

Notes to Editor

For further information, please contact:

Chloe French
Churchill PR Manager
Tel: 01651 831 715

Samantha Stewart
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
0207 282 2856


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK’s leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200300 or visiting