Landlord Tenant Q&A: LAURENE H. YOUNG, (B) MPM, RMP, REALTOR

LAURENE H. YOUNG, (B) MPM, RMP, REALTOR
Young Hawaii Homes, Inc.
2011 President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers

Q. I own a multi-unit apartment building and have problems with the trash. Some of the tenants do not bag the trash correctly and there are problems with rats. Bulky items are left out before the pickup date. My tenants said that they don’t know when the bulky item pickup dates are and deny that they are the ones who are not bagging their trash. Sometimes, when a tenant leaves, I get charged for extra trash pickup. Can I charge this to the tenant?

A. Bulky items are a problem for many owners. Tenants and owners can check on www.opala.org to see the collections dates for their address as well as to see what is acceptable for collection. Per City Ordinance, Chapter 9 – 1.4 (d). ORD 10-16, “Bulky wastes must be placed curbside only on the prescribed collection schedule date. Property owners are responsible for the curb area(s) abutting their property, and may be fined up to $250 per offense for non-compliance.” Items can be placed on the curb no earlier than the evening before the collection date and by 6 a.m. on the collection date. Be sure that sidewalks, driveways and roadways are not blocked. If your tenant misses the bulky item pickup date, multi-unit owners should have a holding area on their property to place these items until the next pickup date.

Once items are placed on the curb, you may find that people come by and take items they may have use for (which you probably won’t have a problem with) or come by and place more items there (which can be an irritant). However, per City Ordinance, Chapter 9-1.ORD 16-009, “Any person who violates City Ordinance by placing or dumping bulky wastes in areas other than the curbside fronting their own property will be subject to a civil fine up to $2,500.” If you have a problem with illegal dumping, make a police report by calling 911 or call 768-3203 to make an illegal dumping report. Having pictures or a license number would help.

Without a previously disclosed fine schedule, you may have difficulty collecting money from a tenant. Hopefully your lease has some sort of verbiage instructing your tenants about how to dispose of their trash and what the fines will be for noncompliance. All trash should be securely bagged and placed in the garbage cans or bins. The trash cans and bins should then be securely covered at all times. Multi-unit buildings may have different types of garbage collection. There may be manual collections, in which case 35-gallon or smaller containers are used that should not exceed 75 pounds when full. There may be automated collections where only the trash inside the cart will be picked up. Or there could be larger bins, but there are charges when the bin is too full (excess yardage).

Even if all the tenants bagged their garbage securely, you would still have some problems with ants, roaches or even rats at times. It should be a part of your normal maintenance to treat for these pests regularly to avoid a bigger problem. It can be difficult to prove who didn’t properly bag their trash, unless you have cameras or want to search through the trash bag trying to find a name on a piece of mail.

Tenants frequently use moving as the time to purge a lot of their belongings and the trash bins will overflow causing extra yardage fees. It should be in your lease, and repeated in your check-out instructions, that the tenants will be responsible for excess trash charges. Take pictures of the overflowing garbage bins and send the tenant a copy of the excess trash invoice. The tenants can also drop off residential waste at any of the City’s refuse drop off locations across the island for free. They can only use a pickup truck, mini-van or automobile, and are limited to 2 loads per day.

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