Environmental health - Messy/untidy neighbour

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You should know

  • Your local authority is responsible for ensuring a safe and pleasant local environment including bins, recycling, flooding and noise, among other issues
  • You can use Resolver to raise and manage your issue.
  • If your issue is not resolved within 12 weeks, you have the right to escalate your case to the Local Government Ombudsman
  • The Local Government Ombudsman is responsible for independent assessment of your issue, and can make a decision on how it is resolved

Complaints about your local environment should be directed at your local authority: it is there to help address a number of issues.

Excessive noise

Everyone’s perception of nuisance noise is subjective, so your local authority will determine whether the noise levels are reasonable, and therefore if it is appropriate to take action. It will also consider the number of complaints received over a period of time, for example a year.

When making your case to the council, it is advisable to keep a record of when the issue happened and for how long the excessive noise was experienced. 

If the local authority finds the noise to be excessive, it can serve a noise-abatement order. If a noise-abatement order is breached, the person or organisation that caused the noise can be prosecuted.


The Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides the local authority with the power to investigate and act upon noise nuisance. The local authority has a duty to investigate its district for noise from time to time, as well as to respond to any complaints raised. 

Outside of control

Your local authority cannot deal with issues related to noise from aircraft.


Councils have a clear legal obligation to deal with trains under the Environmental Protection Act 1990

Taking your own action

There is also provision under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for a member of the public to complain directly to the magistrates court. The latter can make a nuisance order and impose a fine.

Licensed premises

If you have an issue with a pub, club or bar, you can raise the problem with your local authority. However, you should contact the police immediately if the issue is serious.

Restaurant/take-away hygiene

Your local authority is responsible for taking action on these matters, but requires the public’s assistance to bring problems to its attention.

Examples of unhygienic practices are:

  • food handlers smoking;
  • food handlers being unclean, or not wearing clean clothing;
  • food handlers having uncovered cuts or grazes;
  • refrigerated or chilled food being kept at an incorrect temperature;
  • or premises not being clean, in good repair or well ventilated.

The local authority can visit and inspect premises that sell food to consumers. Most inspections are informal, but the council can also take formal action. It can close a premises down if it does not meet the standards, but this requires the council to gain an order from the local magistrates court. Serious investigations can take a few months. 

Rating of quality

The national Food Hygiene Scheme helps you choose where to eat out or shop for food by providing information about hygiene standards. It covers restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways and hotels, among other outlets, as well as supermarkets and food stores. Ratings are also given to schools, hospitals and residential-care homes.

A food-safety officer inspects a business to ensure that it meets the requirements of food-hygiene law. At the inspection, the officer will check:

  • how hygienically the food is handled – for example, how it is prepared, cooked, reheated, cooled and stored;
  • the condition of the structure of the buildings, including the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities;
  • and how the business manages and records what it does to ensure that food is safe.

The hygiene standards found at the time of inspection are then rated on a scale from 0 (urgent improvement needed) to 5 (very good).

Other issues

If your issue relates to weights or measures, food labelling or ingredients, you should raise it with your local authority’s Trading Standards team.

Bins and recycling

Your local authority is obliged to collect two types of recyclable waste, separated from your household rubbish. If a householder does not follow the requirements, the council can refuse to collect their rubbish.

In addition to the normal collection of waste, your local authority might also offer a special collection service for bulky household goods.

Some local authorities offer commercial-waste collection services to businesses and other institutions. There is normally a charge for this.

As each local authority’s waste-collection policy differs, it is important to contact your authority to find information on the services that apply in your area.


Local authorities are responsible for dealing with:

  • surface water flooding. This includes flooding due to rainfall run-off from surfaces such as roads, roofs and patios;
  • ordinary watercourses. This includes drains that can be easily overwhelmed after heavy rain, but excludes main rivers that are managed by the Environment Agency;
  • and groundwater flooding. This includes flooding caused by heavy and sustained levels of rainfall that is capable of increasing the groundwater table.

The role of your local authority includes assessing the risk of surface-water flooding across its authority, as well as working with organisations responsible for water management across the county, so that the likelihood of flooding is minimised.

The responsibilities of your local authority include:

  • developing, maintaining, applying and monitoring a strategy for local flood-risk management;
  • investigating flooding incidents and publishing the results, particularly with regard to which authorities have relevant flood-risk management responsibilities, and what they have done or intend to do;
  • and maintaining a register of local structures or features that have a significant effect on the flood risk.

The Environment Agency’s roles and responsibilities

The Environment Agency is responsible for coastal management, including managing the risk of flooding from primary rivers, and regulating reservoirs.


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