A common problem
Disputes between neighbours are all part and parcel of urban living, with excessive noise, inconsiderate parking and oversized trees traditionally the major sources of irritation. But it seems that household waste has emerged as the leading cause of conflict between residents – because in a single 12-month period, a staggering 5.8 million of us have had an argument with a neighbour over household rubbish. And those 5.8 million trash-talkers quarrelled an average of five times each.
The most common cause of complaint is a neighbour who leaves rubbish outside their home. This is closely followed by complaints about people who leave rubbish lying around for others to clean up, and people who rather cheekily put their rubbish in someone else’s bin.
Escalating the issue
When disputes over rubbish aren’t resolved by civilized discussion, some residents have resorted to stronger action. One in eight of those people who admitted to having a dispute felt compelled to complain to their local council. Nearly 10% became involved in an aggressive confrontation with a neighbour, and 5% ended up in a physical altercation.
Disputes over rubbish can be costly too, with many residents having to pay to have their neighbour’s refuse cleaned up, and some even having to fork out for legal proceedings. That may seem a little extreme, but when you consider that living next to a pile of rubbish can have an emotional impact, and can even affect property values, it’s understandable.
Given the high population density in London, it’s perhaps no surprise that the capital tops the table of locations with the highest incidence of neighbourhood disputes – with a staggering 27% of people falling out with neighbours over rubbish. Second place goes to the North East region, while Yorkshire & Humberside comes third. Wales is the clear winner when it comes to friendly and considerate neighbours, with just 2% of people having fallen out over rubbish in the past year.
How to deal with a dispute
Firstly, try to solve the problem by having a polite word with the offending neighbour. If that doesn’t work, consider using a mediation service – your local council may provide one. If the problem persists, take photographic evidence and report the problem to your local authority. Legal action through the courts should be considered only as a last resort.