Individual landlords, property management businesses and the News Tribune have chimed-in to disparage the proposed tightening of regulation on responsibility for trash collection service at residential rentals. The revised ordinance would make the property owner responsible for ensuring trash collection services at occupied residences (although they could still delegate the obtaining of this service to the renter).
I attended the City Council meeting at which this proposal was vetted. The data, the pictures of accumulated trash and garbage, the descriptions of trash ordinance violations that city staff presented clearly indicate that our city — Jefferson City, the Capital City and recently voted the most beautiful of American small cities — is being trashed and the problem is growing.
Can we all agree that accumulated trash and garbage is something none of us want? As mentioned at the meeting, even if you do not see this occurring, garbage and trash accumulation at a residence becomes a breeding ground for roaches and vermin that will spread to neighboring properties – perhaps yours. Almost half of Jefferson City residences are rentals. And overwhelmingly, this ordinance violation occurs with rental properties.
The issue this trash ordinance change tries to address is compliance with trash collection requirements. I hear the objectors to this change saying try harder, as if city staff have not done all they can to make this work. Here is the problem, you have an ordinance that allows responsibility to maintain trash collection to be placed upon those who rent the property. A violation with abatement averages between $80 and $150 for clean-up plus a $250 admin fee. Now do you really think that those who do not obtain trash collection as required are then going to be responsible and pay the fees for violating the ordinance? It is probably easier for them to disappear and find another rental (and maybe start the process over). When this happens, we the taxpayers cover the cost, not those who should be responsible (the property owners or their renters).
If the property owners are made the responsible party, they are in a much better position to ensure compliance by building the cost into the monthly rental or by better monitoring that their renters are obtaining the required trash service.