Is it Illegal to Leave Wheelie Bins on the Pavement?

Wheelie Bin Pavement

Hands up who put their bins out too early for collection? Or do you leave yours out for far too long afterwards? You might not think it’s an issue, but is it illegal to leave wheelie bins on the pavement? Let’s look.

The Problems Caused By Leaving Your Bin Out on the Street

We’ve all been there. We’ve been walking down a residential street and a bin has blocked our path. The only alternative is to walk on the road which isn’t the safest. If you leave wheelie bins on the pavement, they cause an obstruction. This is a particular problem for elderly individuals, disabled people and parents with pushchairs.

Another problem is when you put bins out too early or leave them out for long periods, they become a target for thieves and vandals. Especially as the nights get darker.

Is it Illegal to Leave Bins on the Pavement?

Leaving a bin out on the pavement is not a criminal matter, but it is a civil one. The government has given local authorities the power to issue fines for persistent breaches of the rules.

There are a lot of different rules around bins and rubbish which can cause confusion. The government’s advice to councils is that fixed penalty notices should be issued as a last resort.

Leaving Bins Out on the Pavement – What are the Rules?

According to government advice, councils can take the following action under section 46a of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Councils CAN issue fixed penalties when people leave wheelie bins on the pavement if:

  • It causes an obstruction such as forcing people with wheelchairs or pushchairs to go on the road;
  • Bins are left out for several days, restricting access to the pavement or street;
  • Bins and/or bin bags are likely to attract vermin;
  • Bins are overturned or damaged and it looks unsightly.

Councils CAN’T issue fixed penalties for minor issues such as leaving bins out for a few hours before collection.

What to Expect If You Leave Wheelie Bins on the Pavement

If you persistently leave your bin out in the street for too long, here’s what you can expect:

You’ll get a written warning telling you how you’ve broken the rules, what to do instead, and what will happen if you don’t comply. 

If you fail to comply with the warning, you’ll get a notice of intent. This will tell you that you’re getting a fixed penalty notice. You can appeal this within 28 days of the date on the notice.  

You’ll get a final notice 28 days after the notice of intent. This tells you how much you have to pay when you have to pay it and what happens if you don’t pay. The maximum fixed penalty is £80.

If you are leaving your bins away from the house because it is distracting from your house’s kerb appeal then you have a couple of options. Your first option would be to keep your bins around the back of the house. The second option which has been shown to increase the value of your house is to invest in a beautiful bin store

Avoid Breaking the Bin Rules

Here’s how to avoid flouting the rules and getting a fine:

  • Don’t put your bin out too early and take it in at an appropriate time. If you are working late or you’re going to be away, ask a neighbour to put your bin out and take it back in.
  • Don’t overfill your bin. Some councils won’t take additional waste that’s left next to a bin. They also may not empty your bin if it won’t shut. If your bin is often too full, try and reduce what you throw away. If you have a large family, you may be able to ask your council for a larger bin. If you do just have a lot of extra waste in any given week, take it to a local household recycling centre.
  • Don’t put recyclables in your waste bin. Councils are clamping down on this because it’s costing them money. If you do this, you’ll get a warning sticker on your bin or you can end up with a fine. Some people have even had their bins taken away by their council for repeat offending!

So there you have it, if you leave wheelie bins on the pavement, it’s not illegal. However, you can end up with a fine. Plus it causes a whole host of problems for others. Be a good neighbour and take in your bin! For more exciting articles on bins, waste, and the environment, check out the rest of our blog

26 comments on “Is it Illegal to Leave Wheelie Bins on the Pavement?

  1. Can I remove wheelie bins that are on my driveway that I don’t own. Neighbours keeps leaving them when they have lots of room on their own drive.

    1. Hi Kevin,
      Thank you for your comment, We would recommend speaking to the individual who does own the bins first and then if the issue proceeds to speak to your local authority to see if they can help.
      Thank you again,

    1. Hi Kem,
      Our recommendation would be to speak with the individuals who are blocking your car first, and then if the issue persists, speak with your local authority to see if they can help. We would certainly not recommend blocking traffic with your wheelie bins as this could be dangerous. We do sympathise with your issues as it must be extremely annoying.
      Thank you again,

  2. my front door goes straight out onto the side walk. Everyone on the street leaves their black wheelie bins out and doesn’t seem to have a problem. I’m debating getting a store that takes up no more space than my bin to keep on the side walk to make the bins look a bit better. I can’t see how this would be any worse than whats done today but I’m concerned about investing money/time in a solution that would be technically not allowed. Would appreciate your thoughts.

    1. Hi Guru,
      You wouldn’t be allowed to intrude on a public path with either your wheelie bin or a wheelie bin storage unit. So as long as you are not blocking a public path you should be okay.
      Thank you,

  3. My neighbour has her 2 bins on the pavement all year around, they look unsightly as on the border of my garden….she has space in her garden to put them & yet chooses the pavement (they don’t block pedestrians unfortunately)

    1. Hi Nicola,
      Our recommendation would be to speak with the individuals first, and then if the issue persists, speak with your local authority to see if they can help. But we sympathise massively with how annoying it can be with neighbours who don’t consider others.
      Thank you again,

  4. Our neighbours are constantly leaving their bins blocking the pavement…who can I report it to,?

    1. Hi Tracey,
      Our recommendation would be to speak with the individuals first, and then if the issue persists, speak with your local authority to see if they can help. It should be the same authority you pay council tax too.
      Thank you again,

  5. I am moving to a new house, when we viewed the property we noticed the alley way between the houses for access to the gardens is used to keep 6 wheels bins 3 for each property but it blocks the way to go to the gardens for both properties, is it illegal to block a potential exit in a fire

    1. Hi Lee,
      Our recommendation would be to speak with the individuals first and see if you can find a solution to either not having three wheelie bins each, or a solution to keep the wheelie bins in position without blocking the alleyway. Failing that citizens advise would be a way to find out more about what local authorities could do to help.
      Thank you again,

  6. My neighbour left her brown waste bin out on pavement right on a bus stop for 5 days before collection unfortunately it was knocked over and left mud and garden waste all over the path and road. Can anything be done about this please also its right outside my property also.

    1. Hi Lois,
      The only thing we can recommend is to talk to your neighbour and ask if they can be more considerate. Failing this you would need to contact your local council.
      Thank you,

  7. Hi we have a large garden that runs along the back of the canal we are an upstairs four in a block and have no front garden only a shared access path 90cm wide. When we leave our bins in our own garden at the back of the house they get raided by the rats from the canal. We have tried bunji cords, a wheel bin store unit wedging the bin lids down with old broken slabs but the rats just chew through the bottom of the bin and we have had them replaced several times now. When I leave the bin at the front of the house in our caldersac on the pavement with no through traffic and we are at the top of the caldersac would this still be an offence? The rears don’t come round the front of the building and this has seemed to stop our vermin issue. Thanks

    1. Hi,
      Unfortunately on such a specific issue like this we can only advise to speak to your neighbours to confirm it isn’t in their way and then to your local council to make sure you are fully sure that you are no causing an offence.
      Thank you,

  8. I leave my bin on property for why do the bin men then leave it on the footway after they have emptied my rubbish instead of returning it to where it was collected from.perhaps the council should fine the bin men for obstruction.

  9. What should one do if our dedicated bin storage is actually down some stairs in the basement flat but it would be ridiculous to expect us to drag a wheelie bin, someone would fall and it’s an old entry in a lessors document and we all leave them on the footpath. It is a very wide path and does not block pedestrians and nobody complains but it looks unsightly.

    I would love to built something to contain them but I guess the council will probably order us to remove it and potentially would ask us not to leave them there but there is literally nowhere else they could go. It is worth asking Bristol city council or are we just asking for trouble?

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thank you for your comment, We would recommend speaking to the local authority hopefully they will be reasonable with your requests and consider your position.
      Thank you again,

  10. I own a pub business in the town center. My building has nowhere to store bins other than on the path outside, which I have done for 5 years. The area is pedestrianised so they are not in the way.

    I have just received a letter saying that I can no longer store the bins on the street. There have been many businesses who have received such letters. In some circumstances I agree with this because some businesses/residences do have locations where the bins can be stored. I however do not.

    I am likely going to have to store my bins inside the building. I don’t consider this hygienic and it could get quite bad in the summer. I live in the flat above the building.

    Is it normal to expect businesses to store waste inside their buildings? I will likely have to close the kitchen and convert it into a bin store. It’s an old listed building so I can’t change much.

    Do I have any legal protection since I think having to store bins inside the building is unreasonable? I used to have a hide around them until they got stolen recently, and they are kept tidy.

    1. Hi Lee,
      Thank you for your comment, unfortunately in very specific examples we have to refer you to your local authority. In situations, authorities can set boundaries where bins can not be placed for the interest of public safety or other reasons, but we recommend speaking to them and your local MP directly for more clarification in this very specific example.
      Thank you again,

  11. Dear Sir,
    I am a resident of the Building located at 58 Washway Rd (Apartment 4), the entrance to our parking area is a Lane that is always full of rubbish or construction material, this is mainly from the restaurant located in the front (Venizia Restaurant).
    Sometimes is also blocked totally/partially by cars. This situation is creating problems to our property, specially to access, but also the smell (due to the rubbish).
    Our main concern is also the potential access blockage to an emergency Service, this had happened, and the lost of value of our apartments due to this irregular situation.
    I hope you can help us in this, We already sent complains to the council and the member of the parlament ,there is no Action.

    1. Hi Marcela,
      Unfortunately, as you have already contacted your local council and memeber of parlament there is not much more that we can recommend apart contacting the parties causing the issues directly.
      Thank you for your comment,

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