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Problems with a business in your street

This advice applies to Scotland

You might have a problem with a business and how it operates near your home. For example, the business might:

  • not handle waste properly - they may be using public bins, littering, not separating food waste, attracting rats
  • have late opening hours  
  • produce smells - from restaurants or factories
  • create noise - from loud music or from people entering or leaving the premises, like a bar or pub 
  • have guard dogs - there should be clear warning notices that there are guard dogs on the premises and the dogs should be under the control of a dog handler or securely tethered.

Many of the activities that could become a problem (for example, noise) are covered by licensing procedures.

If a business breaks the conditions of their licence or the local authority decides that the problem is a statutory nuisance then formal action can be taken. A statutory nuisance can be described as anything that has an unreasonable impact on your ability to enjoy your home or other premises.

Keep a record of what's happening

It's a good idea to keep a record of what happens. For example, if a club plays music past the time on its licence with the council, take a note of the date and time it happens.

Write to the business

You can ask the business to take action to resolve the problem. It may be best to do this in writing, and keep a copy of the letter. Use this template letter [ 130 kb] as a guide.

You should state what the issue is and how this is causing a problem. For example, food waste is not disposed of correctly and is attracting rats.

If you don’t get a response, or get an unhelpful response, you can raise the matter further by contacting the local council for example.

Take action through the local authority

Businesses need licences from the local council for:

  • entertainment for example, a nightclub or sports stadium
  • commercial waste disposal
  • alcohol
  • selling food
  • street traders and markets
  • temporary obstructions for example, scaffolding.

The local authority is usually responsible for providing licences to businesses, although some other public bodies also do this. For example, Food Standards Scotland.

If you think a business isn’t conforming to its licence, contact the authority who provided it, usually the local authority. Find contact details for your local authority on mygov.scot. You should make them aware of the problem and be clear about the effect this has on you. For example, loud music at night means that you can’t sleep.  

Reporting pollution from a business

Your local authority will also deal with complaints about smaller industrial processes, for example, an incinerator or a foundry. If you want to complain about pollution from a larger industrial process, for example, a power station or oil refinery, you should contact the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

If you're concerned about a new business applying for a licence

Licence applications are generally published in the local press and at the site of the proposed activity. If you're aware that an application for a licence has been made for an activity that you think will cause a problem, you may be able to comment on the proposal and/or speak at the local committee meeting that discusses the proposal. Contact your local authority for more information. Find contact details for your local authority on mygov.scot.

Further help

You can get help from an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

More about neighbour disputes

How to resolve neighbour disputes
Boundary and garden disputes
Neighbour noise and abusive behaviour
Disputes about damages and repairs

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