Management of waste odour, flies and vermin

Under the Health, Safety and Amenity Local Law 2021 residents are responsible for management of waste at their properties.

For information on replacement bins due to damage or theft, visit the report bin problems page.

For information on bin collections including how to lodge a complaint about bins being left out on the footpath too long, visit the bin collections page.

Odour, flies and vermin

Waste at any location throughout Brisbane must be managed to ensure that it does not attract flies or vermin. Both residential and commercial premises are also responsible for ensuring their waste does not cause an odour impact to neighbours and surrounding public land.

To avoid attracting flies or vermin or causing an odour, you can try the following ideas:

  • Always keep your waste inside a designated container and keep the lid closed
  • Where possible, keep your bin in a shaded area to reduce it heating up as this will slow down the time it takes for waste to produce odour
  • Reduce the amount of moisture build up in your bin by making sure anything going into it is dry and/or absorbed by something else or in another container
  • If you have waste from your kitchen like meat scraps or bones that are likely to smell and attract flies, try freezing it until bin day and only add it when you put your bin out on the footpath
  • Clean your bin and let it dry out thoroughly between collections. You can use bicarb soda to help absorb smells in between collection days too
  • Reduce the amount of waste you produce through recycling, composting and only buying what you need. Visit the Love Food Hate Waste page for ideas and tips.

Handling complaints about flies and vermin attracted to waste

People are sometimes unaware their waste management is attracting flies or vermin and having impacts on neighbours or the community. Council encourages all residents to talk to their neighbours about fly and vermin problems before making a complaint to Council.

If you are being impacted by flies or vermin attracted to waste at a residential or commercial property, Council recommends that you approach the resident of the property as soon as the problem arises and try to seek a practical long-term solution to amicably resolve the matter. The property occupier may not realise there is an issue because the:

  • bin may be in a location where they are unable to see it
  • resident may not realise there is an issue as they are not there at the time pests are around
  • resident may know that their waste is attracting flies and/or vermin but be physically unable to clean their bin or take other actions without assistance.

To assist neighbours with resolving fly and vermin issues without Council intervention, we have developed a letterbox-drop template which you may wish to use - simply print out the form, fill in the required details and place it in your neighbour’s letterbox.

If the owner of the bin agrees to do something about the matter, wait a few weeks to see if they have been successful in their efforts. Your support and ongoing feedback about the flies and/or vermin can assist the resident with resolving the problem.

Complaint process and response timeframe for flies and vermin

There is a complaint investigation process that Council undertakes for complaints about flies and vermin at a commercial or residential premises.

If the matter is reported to Council:

  • in the first instance, the complainant will be encouraged to try to resolve the matter amicably with their neighbour
  • if the issue continues, the complainant may report the matter to Council
  • Council writes (via mail or email) to both parties about the issue and provides relevant supporting information to assist in resolving the matter. This letter will also provide you with a Further Information Request Form which you will be required to fill out should the issue be ongoing and you wish the complaint to progress further.
  • both parties are encouraged to talk to their neighbours to discuss the problem and seek a possible solution
  • if the property occupier takes no action to resolve the problem within 21 days of reporting the matter to Council, the complainant may fill out the Further Information Request Form and contact Council again
  • Council will investigate the complaint.

Report the matter to Council

If the flies and/ or vermin continue to be an issue after you have discussed the matter with the resident and they have had at least 21 days to resolve the problem, you can report the issue to Council by phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 07 3403 8888 or email Council online.

If where the exact address of the premises that the flies and/or vermin are coming from is unknown, Council is unable to action the complaint.  For example, in high rise apartment buildings, you are encouraged to contact the body corporate to resolve the matter in the first instance.

Complainant

Council will send (via mail or email) a letter with information about the issue and a Further Information Request Form to fill out should the matter continue. 

Occupier of property with waste

At the same time Council sends a letter and information pack to the complainant, Council will also promptly provide information to the resident occupying the premises complained about (via mail) and provide some potential solutions. The owner of the waste will be asked to take action to eliminate the problem. Council and the neighbourhood must allow a reasonable timeframe, usually 21 days, for the owner to take action to address the issues.

Complaint investigation

If the complainant fills out the Further Information Request Form and contacts Council again after the 21 days have passed, the complaint will be profiled for response by a Council officer.

Council will take necessary actions to ensure the complainants identity will remain anonymous.  However, there may be circumstances where a Council officer will need to attend the complainant’s premises throughout the investigation. Enforcement action may be reliant, in part or whole, on the evidence put forward by the complainant, and if the information from them has to be shared with the alleged offender or the matter progresses to Court, the identity of the complainant may become known. A person making a complaint and supplying evidence should be aware of this fact. 

If the officer determines the waste is attracting flies and/ or vermin, Council may issue a fine or compliance notice to remedy the problem. Alternatively, Council may determine that education is the most appropriate response.

Handling waste odour complaints

People are sometimes unaware their waste management is having odour impacts on neighbours or the community. Council encourages all residents to talk to their neighbours about odour problems before making a complaint to Council.

If odour from waste at a residential or commercial property is having an impact on you, Council recommends that you approach the resident of the property as soon as the problem arises and try to seek a practical long-term solution to amicably resolve the matter. The property occupier may not realise the odour is an issue because the:

  • bin may be in a location where they are unable to smell it
  • owner may not realise the smell is impacting anyone else
  • owner may know that their waste is causing an odour but be physically unable to clean their bin without assistance.

To assist neighbours with resolving odour impact issues without Council intervention, we have developed a letterbox-drop template which you may wish to use - simply print out the form, fill in the required details and place it in your neighbour’s letterbox.

If the owner of the bin agrees to do something about the odour, wait a few weeks to see if they have been successful in their efforts. Your support and ongoing feedback about the waste odour can assist the resident with resolving the problem.

Complaint process and response timeframe for odour

There is a complaint investigation process that Council undertakes for complaints about bin odour at a commercial or residential premises.

If the matter is reported to Council:

  • in the first instance, the complainant will be encouraged to try to resolve the matter amicably with their neighbour by handling the waste odour complaint
  • if the odour continues, the complainant may report the matter to Council 
  • Council writes (via mail or email) to both parties about the issue and provides relevant fact sheets and supporting information to assist in resolving the matter
  • both parties are encouraged to talk to their neighbours to discuss the problem and seek a possible solution
  • if the bin owner takes no action to resolve the problem within 28 days of reporting the matter to Council, the complainant may complete an odour diary and return it to Council should they wish for a further investigation to be conducted
  • If an odour diary is received, Council will investigate the complaint.

Report the matter to Council

If the odour continues to be an issue after you have discussed the odour with the resident and they have had at least 28 days to resolve the problem, you can report the issue to Council by phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 07 3403 8888 or email Council online

If where the exact address of the waste the odour is coming from is unknown, Council is unable to action the complaint.  For example, in high rise apartment buildings, you are encouraged to contact the body corporate to resolve the matter in the first instance.

Complainant

Council will send (via mail or email) a letter, fact sheet and an odour diary.

Occupier of property with waste

At the same time Council sends a letter and information pack to the complainant, Council will also promptly provide information to the resident occupying the premises complained about (via mail) and provide some potential solutions. The owner of the waste will be asked to take action to eliminate the problem. Council and the neighbourhood must allow a reasonable timeframe, usually 28 days, for the owner to take action to address the waste odour.

Complainant odour diary

If a completed odour diary is received, a Council officer will review the diary to assist further investigation.

The returned odour diary is a key piece of information that assists Council in understanding the nature of the situation.

Complainants are requested to complete all fields in the odour diary for a minimum period of 14 consecutive days and return it to Council. The odour diary helps Council establish patterns of when the odour is occurring.

Once Council has provided you with a complaint reference number, you can start completing the odour diary for neighbours.

Complaint investigation

After a completed odour diary has been returned to Council, the complaint will be profiled for response by a Council officer.

Council will take necessary actions to ensure the complainants identity will remain anonymous.  However, there may be circumstances where a Council officer will need to attend the complainant’s premises throughout the investigation, including the requirement to share the contents of the odour diary with the resident. Enforcement action may be reliant, in part or whole, on the evidence put forward by the complainant, and if the diary has to be shared with the alleged offender or the matter progresses to Court, the identity of the complainant may become known. A person making a complaint and supplying evidence should be aware of this fact. 

If the officer determines the odour is causing an ongoing impact, Council may issue a fine or compliance notice to remedy the problem. Alternatively, Council may determine that education is the most appropriate response.

Last updated: 17 June 2022

Brisbane City Council acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land and their unique relationship with their ancestral country. We pay respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of Brisbane, and recognise their strength and wisdom.