Landlords' Responsibility to Remove Trash

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States and localities have different rules and methods for waste management, but their rules must follow the federal guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The state and local regulations usually define the frequency of pickups and rules about safely storing trash. Landlords must follow these regulations on behalf of their tenants. Some states and cities also require tenants to have a recycling option, and certain jurisdictions have mandatory recycling which will fine tenants or landlords who throw away recyclable materials.

Sanitation Regulations

State and local housing codes often include detailed rules on providing sanitary conditions to tenants, like an easily accessible trash receptacle. If the landlord fails to meet these rules, tenants can report the landlord to local housing authorities to pressure the landlord with fines and court orders to make the necessary fixes.

Federal Minimums

Each state and local government is free to manage waste in a manner they see fit so long as they meet federal minimum rules. For example, trash collection generally must occur at least once a week, and collection of bulky items once every three months. Reusable trash containers (like the ones typically seen in alleyways) should not have cracks or be susceptible to spillage when dumped into the trash vehicle.  More information here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2012-title40-vol26/xml/CFR-2012-title40-vol26-part243.xml

Rent Withholding

Tenants might be able to withhold their rent if the landlord fails to provide proper trash receptacles and removal services. About 80% of states allow tenants to withhold rent if basic necessities of the apartment are not present. These states may offer restrictions about the types of issues that tenants can withhold rent for, the amount they can withhold, details about the timing and content of the notice the tenant sends the landlord, and sometimes requires the rent be placed in an escrow account. If a tenant fails to meet these requirements, the tenant may be successfully evicted. Therefore, tenants should consult with a local lawyer before engaging in rent withholding, or at least thoroughly read the process and requirements.

Breaking the Lease

Many state and local laws require landlords to provide trash service for their tenants or properties. Where a landlord fails to offer a reliable trash service, it can create a health hazard. Tenants are typically free to break a lease when the apartment becomes unsafe. In every state except Arkansas, leases include an “implied warranty of habitability” which requires apartments to be safe and livable. It exists as a tenant right even if there is no written lease, it’s not mentioned in the lease, or even despite a lease that says the landlord is not responsible. The exact details of what needs to be fixed to keep the apartment safe and livable depend heavily by state, but the key factors are health and safety (not comfort, annoyance, or quality). A lack of proper waste disposal system can create an unsanitary condition that makes the apartment unfit for habitation, so tenants are typically allowed to break the lease if they've given proper notice to the landlord and followed other procedures set forth by the state. Unless the tenant caused the problem, the landlord cannot charge tenants for these repairs and tenants are free to break a lease if the landlord doesn’t fix the problem in a reasonable time (some jurisdictions specify exact time periods by which landlords must fix issues).

Sanitation Regulations


State and local housing codes often include detailed rules on providing sanitary conditions to tenants, like an easily accessible trash receptacle. If the landlord fails to meet these rules, tenants can report the landlord to local housing authorities to pressure the landlord with fines and court orders to make the necessary fixes.

Federal Minimums


Each state and local government is free to manage waste in a manner they see fit so long as they meet federal minimum rules. For example, trash collection generally must occur at least once a week, and collection of bulky items once every three months. Reusable trash containers (like the ones typically seen in alleyways) should not have cracks or be susceptible to spillage when dumped into the trash vehicle. More information here: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2012-title40-vol26/xml/CFR-2012-title40-vol26-part243.xml

Rent Withholding


Tenants might be able to withhold their rent if the landlord fails to provide proper trash receptacles and removal services. About 80% of states allow tenants to withhold rent if basic necessities of the apartment are not present. These states may offer restrictions about the types of issues that tenants can withhold rent for, the amount they can withhold, details about the timing and content of the notice the tenant sends the landlord, and sometimes requires the rent be placed in an escrow account. If a tenant fails to meet these requirements, the tenant may be successfully evicted. Therefore, tenants should consult with a local lawyer before engaging in rent withholding, or at least thoroughly read the process and requirements.

Breaking the Lease


Many state and local laws require landlords to provide trash service for their tenants or properties. Where a landlord fails to offer a reliable trash service, it can create a health hazard. Tenants are typically free to break a lease when the apartment becomes unsafe. In every state except Arkansas, leases include an “implied warranty of habitability” which requires apartments to be safe and livable. It exists as a tenant right even if there is no written lease, it’s not mentioned in the lease, or even despite a lease that says the landlord is not responsible. The exact details of what needs to be fixed to keep the apartment safe and livable depend heavily by state, but the key factors are health and safety (not comfort, annoyance, or quality). A lack of proper waste disposal system can create an unsanitary condition that makes the apartment unfit for habitation, so tenants are typically allowed to break the lease if they've given proper notice to the landlord and followed other procedures set forth by the state. Unless the tenant caused the problem, the landlord cannot charge tenants for these repairs and tenants are free to break a lease if the landlord doesn’t fix the problem in a reasonable time (some jurisdictions specify exact time periods by which landlords must fix issues).

Last Update : August 27, 2018 UTC

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