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Subject: Dumpster Issue Has No Clear Solution
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11/14/2021 5:57 PM  
I am on the board of a financially cash-strapped townhome HOA with a community dumpster. We have one dumpster serving 40+ townhomes. It is the largest dumpster offered by the company and is serviced three times per week. Like many similar communities, we have the problem of residents leaving trash including large items (mattresses/couches, etc) outside the dumpster. The dumpster is not always full whenever this happens. Most of the time it is residents who live inside the community doing it but sometimes from outside as well. For a long time, since the dumpster company will not touch anything left outside the dumpster, board members & their families and other residents have volunteered to clean up the mess. One board member’s husband has been the only one to volunteer to haul away mattresses & such (at least 10 instances of him doing this) so we do not have to use HOA funds to hire a third party to haul it off. As you might expect, however, this only creates a one-time solution but does not stop the problem from continuing. It is not fair that people who do not make the mess should clean up after the ones who do. It in fact it creates no motivation for the guilty parties to stop if someone takes care of their mess for them. This board is long overdue for a permanent solution and a system in place that takes care of this problem. We need a system that puts accountability directly in the hands of the individual offenders and also makes the entire community accountable when those offenders cannot be identified. We have distributed community trash rules that clearly state anything left outside the dumpster for any reason is prohibited, that there will be severe fines per item to any homeowner responsible, that large items such as furniture must be disposed of by the resident not the HOA and that the HOA will not absorb the added cost of cleanup. We have also changed the service days to better accommodate the community as residents tend to take their trash out more on the weekends. These steps have helped. The messes have decreased but not completely stopped. We (board members) have personally put on gloves and gone through bags of nasty trash looking for info (such as mail) to enable us to identify the responsible parties so we know who to fine, but many bags cannot be identified and certainly large items such as mattresses cannot either. Just this past week another mattress has been dumped beside the dumpster. Someone from the inside or outside? We don’t know. We do understand a camera may help us identify some people or license plates, but even that will not be 100% and then we will still be left with unidentifiable messes that needs to be taken care of. Best board solution we have come up with is that known rule violators will be fined…but for unidentified messes the community will share in the cost of cleanup in the form of an extra fee charged on top of their next month’s dues. $5 per homeowner will cover the cost of one mattress to be hauled away by a junk removal company. Now one homeowner is saying the $5 would be an assessment we would need a vote of the homeowners for and that it is the board’s fault for allowing outsiders to use our dumpster and that the homeowners should not be responsible for prohibited items left beside the dumpster. He’s saying we are going against our CC&R’s rules by assessing this added fee to all homeowners. Any thoughts?


11/14/2021 6:15 PM  
TamaraR1, ask this cowboy how he would enforce the rule against no dumping of mattresses, sofas, et cetera. If what he says is useful, use it. If not, ignore him until he puts on his big boy pants and runs for the board.

Even COAs with security cameras struggle to enforce this rule against dumping.

Of course all owners should be assessed for this. I cannot see how the CC&Rs would say otherwise.


11/14/2021 7:26 PM  
Every trash disposal company I have every used for HOA's has had a bulk pickup available, either free or at a cost. Either the PM or Board would need to make arrangements with the disposal company after a resident has made a request. If there is a charge, invoice the unit. If you not gated, putting cameras to capture the offenders might be difficult and costly.

I would inquire with your current disposal company and if they don't offer the service, look for someone that does.


11/14/2021 8:42 PM  
Eliminate the dumpster and go to curbside pickup.

It may cost a little more, but it should stop outsiders from using the dumpster and may help identify violators of prohibited items.

Unintended consequences: Trash cans left out too long or placed out too early, roadents/birds attacking bags of trash and making a mess.


11/14/2021 9:59 PM  
They do offer it. They have a large contruction-type of roll-off dumpster that can hold large bulk items, you can rent for a minimum number of days or pay for extra days. Between the cost to drop off and pick up at the end this will cost the HOA between $300 to $500 each time. If we could afford to do that, it would be maybe once or twice a year and then residents would have to hold their large items until those times. But we would still have to assess everyone for their fair share of that roll-off dumpster. Or residents can pay for a bagster to hold those items in their yard or driveway and then individually pay the fee to have it picked up. But why would they do either one when they can just drop the items off at our dumpster like they do now and get away with it scott free with no inconvenience or cost to themselves?


11/14/2021 10:17 PM  
Posted By TimB4 on 11/14/2021 8:42 PM
Eliminate the dumpster and go to curbside pickup.

It may cost a little more, but it should stop outsiders from using the dumpster and may help identify violators of prohibited items.

Unintended consequences: Trash cans left out too long or placed out too early, roadents/birds attacking bags of trash and making a mess.

We have considered curbside pickup and may do that in future. If we do that, I think there should be a fine if any trash is not securely closed inside the provided trash can. However, curbside service does not include large bulk item pickup. They still have to pay the company or a third party out of their own pocket to pick it up. That or figure out a way to get the item down to the convenience center themselves where you can drop items off for free. Both of those options either cost them money or time and effort. They can still just drop the item in the empty space where the dumpster used to be (as long as they don’t get caught) and then who pays to get that item hauled off?


11/15/2021 12:30 AM  
Posted By TamaraR1 on 11/14/2021 10:17 PM

However, curbside service does not include large bulk item pickup. They still have to pay the company or a third party out of their own pocket to pick it up.

I just left a town home community.
Our trash/recycling contract included bulk items.

Trash was picked up twice per week.
Bulk Items were picked up once per week (on a trash day).

The company provided a list of what bulk items would be allowed and the Board distributed that list to all. If residents had bulk items not on the list, they could call the company directly and arrange it to be picked up on a trash day. The company would then bill that resident directly.

It all depends on what you negotiate.

Even if you are happy with your company, make sure you get bids for curbside.
It's the only way to know if you are paying market price or not.


11/15/2021 4:25 AM  
We are a community of 84 townhomes and each unit has their garbage and recycling bins. We do not have a large dumpster available for the community.


11/15/2021 5:27 AM  
If garbage disposal is normally paid for with the assessment then I agree with the homeowner who says that the $5 fee is really an increase in the assessment. It does not matter what you call it, if you charge every resident the same, regardless of use, that is an assessment unless your governing documents state otherwise.

I understand the need for the extra charge but you have to follow your governing documents and state law regardless of how badly the increase is needed.


11/15/2021 6:50 AM  
We own a condo in a large condo community that had this same issue with the dumpster. So they went to "valet" curbside pickup twice a week, but to eliminate the garbage can left out problem, they only allow trash bags to be put out on the morning of trash pickup. White bags for trash, clear bags for recycling. It works really well and easier for the trash contractor to pick up bags rather than dump garbage cans. Condo owners can call and arrange bulk pickup for a fee.

This condo complex has a lot of wild animals around the area so the lesson is - don't leave your trash out the night before. And believe it or not, people do follow the rule.

At first I was amazed that the dumpster area was permanently locked, but then I was told that it used to be a gathering spot of furniture, mattresses, electronics, etc. and was costing the association a fortune in pickup fees.



11/15/2021 1:19 PM  
First thought – PLEASE USE SMALLER PARAGRAPHS! This is hard to read.

I live in a townhouse community and like you, we’ve had problems with all sorts of crap being left in and around the dumpsters, and the city won’t pick it up, so we’ve had to pay for someone else to pick it up. The last few years I was on the board, there was a guy who’d drive through the community in his pick-up and remove some of the mattresses, TVs, broken furniture, a water heater, a toilet (that’s what I said), and other nonsense, which he’d then sell for scrap. I don’t know if he still does it, but I know there were a few others who caught on and did the same thing.

We tried to publicize the address of the local dump that sponsors drop off days every Saturday, organizations that recycle (we even considered inviting one to come in once a month so people could drop off whatever), told everyone the cost of the extra clean up expense and how it impacted their assessments and put up a sign reminding people of the rules. All of this would work for a little while and then the problem would revve up again. Some of this was seasonal – unfortunately, we have a lot of renters in the community and some of them will move out at the end of the school year, and the number of mattresses also increase around the same time.

Two years ago, the board hired a security company to set up a surveillance camera. This also worked for a while, but we noticed the dumpers would park their cars so that the camera couldn’t pick up the license plates and so we couldn’t always catch them. I think the camera was also damaged at some point because it was moved twice. Last week, the company bought out a small trailer and the camera’s attached to that, so you have to do more work if you want to damage it. I suspect there are more cameras than the one on the pole because I haven’t seen too much dumping since.

Moral of the story – you’ll never completely stop it, but you might be able to slow it down by getting security cameras to monitor the area. Yes, that will cost money and the homeowners will have to pay for it, but maybe that will encourage them to do some self-policing by politely but firmly calling out the dumpsters when they see them. Establishing a recycling program might also help, along with bringing in a portable dumpster once a month and residents toss whatever at that time.

Then there are some more radical approaches like locking the dumpsters at a certain time, but you’d have to determine the best time for that, and it won’t stop people from leaving the junk around the dumpsters. In my community, the homes on my block use trash carts because we have the attached garages and cul de sacs to set them out. Lately, I’ve wondered if perhaps we should lose the dumpsters altogether and get everyone else a trash cart they can set up on the dumpster pad. We could keep the dumpster next to the clubhouse – it’s had the most problems but maybe we could construct the dumpster shed in a way that we could lock it when the clubhouse isn’t being used.

This is when you can tell your homeowner that part of the reason this problem has worsened is because some of the HOMEOWNERS have seen people put this junk in the dumpsters, but did nothing. You pay at the front or back end – either the homeowners will have to pay a little more in assessments so the junk can be cleaned up quickly or the violators should be fined heavily. Of course, you’ll have to check your documents and possibly with the association attorney to ensure the association has the right to assess fines, and then you’ll have to pass a board resolution authorizing the fines – or get the homeowners to approve a fining schedule, depending on how your documents are written. The fining schedule should also come with appeal rights and you’ll have to figure out how to enforce all of this stuff.

If that homeowner has better ideas on how to address this, tell him to bring them to the board for consideration. In the meantime, if and when he sees something, he should say something. Everyone has a cellphone and most of them have cameras that time/date stamp photos – a few discreet snapshots sent to the property manager or government agency that enforces rules against illegal dumping could be useful.

If it’s a neighbor, maybe this guy should man up and politely but firmly remind him/her of the rules. It can work – I’ve stopped people a time or two – once, it was the grandson of a resident, who grumbled and cussed, but he and his friend walked back with the rolled up carpet, put it in their truck and drove away. Where it went, I don’t know, but it wasn’t in our dumpster, so I was happy. Another time it was some construction worker who I caught just as I was walking into the board meeting – he seemed embarrassed, but got in his truck (hadn’t started dumping yet) and drove off.
(South Carolina)


11/15/2021 1:50 PM  

Go to curbside pickup.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Dumpster Issue Has No Clear Solution

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