Tenants not using individual garbage

16 Replies

Hi all,

Looking for some input on an issue I am having. I currently own a 4-unit in Otisville NY. I am house-hacking, but my other 3 tenants came with the property. On the side of the property there are 4 garbage cans, one for each unit. Before I bought this property, it seems as if there was no designated garbage can per unit and the tenants could throw out the garbage in whichever can they wanted. The "PM" would then take the garbage out on Monday night to be collected Tuesday morning. 

Since I have acquired the property, I am changing this rule on garbage to be every tenant is responsible for their own trash. I have had a tenant give me pushback when I mentioned to him to kindly not throw trash in my can, and to please use his own since every unit has a can. He then got extremely rude and hung up the phone telling me that this is not how it has been.

What should I do about this? I am thinking about writing him a formal letter/notice letting him know the rules going forward. Currently they are not under a lease. I am raising rents, but needed to give them 90 days notice. They signed leases for 2/2021.

Thanks in advance

Hey Michael,

I am in my first house hack and feel your pain. This is something you will need to put into their lease. Stuff like this is why landlords end up with 20 page leases. I would give it a little bit of time to figure out all of the items like this you want to add to the lease, especially if the tenants seem like they will be giving you a hard time. Once its in the lease, you can then enforce it as they signed and agreed to it.

As I have learned, living with tenants can be difficult, especially those who were inherited. 

I can't wait for the day I am financially independent! While house hacking is the wise decision, I would prefer being in a single family away from these knuckleheads. Its all good though, we will all look back on these days years from now and laugh at it.

Congrats on the 4-family and good luck on your journey!

They are month-to-month renters. If he's going to fight you over such a simple thing, maybe you should give them notice to vacate and find a renter that can be a better neighbor.

If you want to give him a chance, I would paint his unit number on the can and then give him written notice that he is expected to use his designated can or he is free to move to another rental.

There might be a simple solution...where is your can placed relative to his and which is closest to the door?  Put his in the more convenient location and if he then fails to bring it to the curb, let him know he's in violation of the lease.  Give him a fine.  Worst case, he gets fined weekly $20 and you get paid $20 a week to take his can to the curb.

I'm going to be the opposite on this one and say I think the old system was pretty good.  What if you have 1 tenant that just produces a lot of trash, this opens up complaints from other tenants when they start to overflow into other cans or leave bags by the can to get shredded by raccoons.  Also what are you going to do if the tenant just doesn't produce much trash or is out of town and decides to skip a week and it starts to smell.  For me this would be a fight not worth having and since I lived onsite would just take out all 4 cans and bring them back in. I realize the issue with this is it will set a precedent that if they complain you will back down and I'm sure this won't be the first you will have so it is a fine line to walk.  The tenant didn't like that you complained to them that they used the wrong trashcan and hung up, are you wanting to be the mediator when the tenant throws their trash in another tenants can and you have to get involved.  

@Brandon Rush thanks for the words of encouragement brother. Definitely going to add it into my leases going forward.

To be honest with you @Nathan G. I am very close to giving him his notice. My questions is, I signed a lease with him starting 2/1/2021 and does that lease hold its weight in gold or can I still issue notice of vacancy without any problems having that existing lease.

@Theresa Harris I put the cans from units 1-4 closest to the door. The tenant that I am having an issue with is unit 3, the lady in unit 1 just had surgery so I am keeping her can closest to the door to minimize her travel.

@Adam Martin I see your point but I cant say I agree. I had a similar issue with my other property about garbage cans that lead to the police being called. The purpose of every unit having their own can is so I can avoid conflict between tenant. I am trying to issue systems and rental properties without systems in my opinion would lead to a free-for-all and make my life a lot more difficult. 

Originally posted by @Kris H. :

@Michael Gabin

I think you should likely grow up and act like a genuine neighbour instead of an entitled tenant. “My can” was a bad idea. Make sure the garbage gets in ANY can and the cans get out. Beyond that who gives a rip? Just my thoughts

I think their point was to make each responsible for their own (ie take it to the curb) to reduce work for the landlord. Maybe I read that wrong.

 

@Adam Martin I see your point but I cant say I agree. I had a similar issue with my other property about garbage cans that lead to the police being called. The purpose of every unit having their own can is so I can avoid conflict between tenant. I am trying to issue systems and rental properties without systems in my opinion would lead to a free-for-all and make my life a lot more difficult. 

After thinking it through some more I can see some points in having the tenant responsible for their own trash that haven't been mentioned yet. You are house hacking this property but have not stated how long. If this is a shorter hack you will have the issue come up when you leave of who will be responsible for trash and this would be a simpler time to switch to the tenants having their own cans. I doubt you will want to drop by a couple times a week to take out and collect the cans. That said though a lease is a binding contract for not only what we expect from the tenant but what they can expect from you. If they are in the middle of their lease you can't change the terms just like they can't. If you pre-signed a lease starting in February hopefully this was addressed in the new lease but if not you are stuck with the current system in my opinion if they do not agree voluntarily. I don't see a way you can unilaterally get out of the lease you signed unless they willingly consent but you can always offer it. You wouldn't like it if your lease stated they were responsible to take out their trash but they changed their mind mid lease and said you were, it is the same principal for them.

 

Originally posted by @Michael Gabin :

I am very close to giving him his notice. My questions is, I signed a lease with him starting 2/1/2021 and does that lease hold its weight in gold or can I still issue notice of vacancy without any problems having that existing lease.

Does his lease start in 2021 or is that when it ends? Either way, you could end it with proper justification and notice but that should be a last resort.

Some people think it's a silly thing to bother with, but I happen to know that garbage can become a real problem. What if a particular tenant refuses to bag their garbage? It spills into the can and creates a stinking, disgusting mess. And then who cleans it out? The Landlord! It is completely normal to assign a can to individual units. It ensures each individual is responsible for their own mess and gives the Landlord some ability to enforce it. If a tenant accidentally throws something away and later wants to retrieve it, they are only digging through their own trash and not the neighbor's pile of dirty diapers and cat litter. It also prevents one tenant from filling every can; if it doesn't fit in their own can then they will have to dispose of it somewhere else.

Just a few examples. There's no reason why this Tenant can't walk three feet farther and throw his trash in his assigned can.

@Nathan G. I gave a rent raise notice when I first acquired the property which was October 29, 2020. Because they have been here for 11 years, NYS requires 90 days notice. They have been month to month the entire time they have lived here, so I had them sign a lease starting in February 2021 when the rent raise goes into effect. They are currently still month to month at their existing rent.

I would honestly prefer to have them leave, so I can get in there and renovate the unit. They have neglected it for 11 years and it was also under extremely poor management. They simply aren't great tenants and I know that I will continue to get push back with everything I put into effect. Not saying getting a new tenant would not be similar, but I would be doing the interview process and making sure they are fit for the property as opposed to inheriting a tenant who has a problem with change. I had no problem filling a vacant unit because the demand is so high, and with rents being high as well the price that I am asking for is more then reasonable. 

What would be considered possible justification if they are currently not under any lease, but have a signed one for February 1, 2021?

Originally posted by @Michael Gabin :

@Nathan G. I gave a rent raise notice when I first acquired the property which was October 29, 2020. Because they have been here for 11 years, NYS requires 90 days notice. They have been month to month the entire time they have lived here, so I had them sign a lease starting in February 2021 when the rent raise goes into effect. They are currently still month to month at their existing rent.

I would honestly prefer to have them leave, so I can get in there and renovate the unit. They have neglected it for 11 years and it was also under extremely poor management. They simply aren't great tenants and I know that I will continue to get push back with everything I put into effect. Not saying getting a new tenant would not be similar, but I would be doing the interview process and making sure they are fit for the property as opposed to inheriting a tenant who has a problem with change. I had no problem filling a vacant unit because the demand is so high, and with rents being high as well the price that I am asking for is more then reasonable. 

What would be considered possible justification if they are currently not under any lease, but have a signed one for February 1, 2021?

 You can try giving them notice, but if they've already signed a 1 year lease that goes until the end of Jan 2022, you might be stuck.

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

They are month-to-month renters. If he's going to fight you over such a simple thing, maybe you should give them notice to vacate and find a renter that can be a better neighbor.

If you want to give him a chance, I would paint his unit number on the can and then give him written notice that he is expected to use his designated can or he is free to move to another rental.

Unfortunately, in NY his "month-to-month" tenants need to be given 90 days notice.

I only have 12 data points of my own experience, but inherited tenants almost never work out. They are always going to push back against the new rules/lease terms and YOU and try to use their tenure before you owned the property as leverage. Too bad you've signed a new lease with them. Hopefully it, too, is a a MTM.

Very risky times to be landlord in NY, these days. Good luck!
 

 

Originally posted by @Michael Gabin :


What would be considered possible justification if they are currently not under any lease, but have a signed one for February 1, 2021?

 Contact an attorney about this ASAP.  They will let you know how to proceed.  Don't try this on your own.  These tenants will eat your lunch.  The tenant protections in place need to be navigated by your counsel.

@Michael Gabin

The name of this game is customer service and having your tenants feel like you’re on their side. Earn their respect and they’ll work with you in anyway you need. Treat them kind and they will treat your property the same. People will go above and beyond for you if they feel like you respect their opinions and are trying to understand them. But if you make them resent you they can make your life hell while they’re in the unit! Just takes times and practice, you’re living and learning how to handle different situations along the way. Just remember... ITS ALL IN THE PRESENTATION!