G.B. from Cook County, Illinois writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I reside in a 60-unit complex that consist of 6 buildings with 10 units each. I’m currently a three-year board member. Each building has its own garbage room inside the garage. There are rules for disposing of household garbage. All garbage should be plastic bagged, boxes should be broken down, no appliances or furniture should be placed in room unless you first call management and arrange for and pay for pickup, no construction debris should be placed in trash dumpster. All of these rules get broken all the time especially in the building where I reside. Our management company has sent out letters to all unit owners yet the problem persists. Our president has told me she doesn’t have time to deal with the garbage problem in my building. Yet if I call for a furniture pickup, and the association has to pay, she gets upset. Any suggestions?
Mister Condo replies:
G.B., trash is, and likely always will be, a bone of contention for any High-density housing (HDH) development such as an apartment or condo building. We are consumers. We consume and we make waste. Lots and lots of waste. I don’t’ believe there is any adequate solution to the problem to date. You have highlighted the nature of the problem. Unit owners and renters make trash they need to dispose of. They simply take it to the dumpster or place it to the curb and it magically disappears on trash day. Or it becomes someone else’s problem. Or a unit owner or resident is cited, fined, or forced to remove the trash and dispose of it properly. It is an ongoing battle and will never end because there will always be more trash. The best I can suggest is to offer more frequently scheduled bulk trash pickup and communicate to residents that they need to wait for bulk days for the bulkier items. You can encourage recycling by working with your municipality and spreading the word about how recycling helps save the planet and is, in fact, law in many communities. Other than that, surveillance cameras and a vigilant eye for offenders can help the situation but that isn’t the responsibility of the Board President, per se. A Trash Committee could be formed or a third-party could be hired to keep an eye on the offenders. Both solutions require manpower, volunteer or paid, and require a commitment to keeping offenders in check. I think I would recommend an educational approach. Use your newsletter, website, emails, text messages, whatever you have, and send out periodic and timely notices to residents. A community that has trash problems is inviting vermin, rodents, and disease to their community. Communication about the problem just might be the cure. All the best!