Community Maintenance

“Let’s Talk Some Trash!”

Trash violations are a fact of life for any manager and all associations. I live in an HOA and help manage a high-rise condominium. In an HOA you will find lids that are not tightly placed on trash cans on trash day. You may even find trash bags that are placed directly on the ground come trash day. In a condominium you may easily find trash bags that left in trash rooms instead of thrown down trash chutes. It is common to find trash bags filled with food placed in your recycling bins as well. One of the more burdensome concerns is when large items such as furniture are left on the property. All of these actions will increase a manager’s workload and create an even greater impact on the community than expected:

  • The manager spends more time focusing on one aspect of communal living which could potentially impact how effective he/she can be. Managers may also spend more time watching cameras to figure out who the offenders are. Again, this puts a strain on the manager’s time.
  • Costs are increased to remove heavy items that will not be collected by a refuse company for free.
  • This causes additional work for your cleaning crews. They have to find creative ways to get rid of these items.
  • Uncontrolled trash creates a food source for pests and inevitably leads to more pest control
  • It sets a tone in the community. “If he/she has done it then it must be okay for me to do it.”

You may be asking “well, what can I do about these recurring issues that I face in my community.” Here are a few suggestions when facing a mess from trash in your community:

  • Use lids that are attached to the cans being used (particularly in an HOA)
  • Be proactive by doing daily walks throughout your community. Use your covenants manager and every measure possible.
  • Utilize cameras on those streets, trash rooms, floors, etc. to catch offenders.
  • Fine offenders (according to your bylaws). Behaviors tend to decrease when the offender realizes these violations come with financial ramifications.
  • Budget a bulk trash pickup AT LEAST once a year. Make sure these events are advertised well enough in advance so residents can prepare.

After hours, move outs and long holiday weekends are prime times for violations. Residents are eager to leave behind unwanted items. The assumption is that they are leaving the building never to be heard from again makes it that much more alluring to leave items behind. Over long holiday weekends residents are aware that the building is not filled with staff. The opportunity to get rid of unwanted items from their units is beyond tempting.

Some things come with the territory. Dealing with trash violations is one of them. The best one can do is to be proactive and manage these concerns to the best of your ability. How you deal with the trash and messiness is a measure of management skill and community buy in.

By Jaquan Kennedy, CMCA, AMS 

Jaquan is the assistant general manager at The Kenwood in Bethesda and the treasurer of Admirals Landing Owners Association in Baltimore County, Maryland. He is a former blogger who has a passion for writing and brings several years of hospitality to the industry.

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