Responsibilities for Garbage

QUICK FACTS
  • Responsibility for Providing. Some states require all landlords to provide receptacles for garbage, maintain them and/or arrange for regular collection. Some states only require the landlord to provide the receptacles but do not address maintenance or collection. Some also exempt certain types of rentals from the requirement. (read more).
  • Time to Repair. If it’s the landlord’s responsibility, some states specify a time frame to repair (usually ~14 days from request), while others aren’t specific beyond a “reasonable” time period (read more).
  • Tenant’s Options. If the landlord fails to comply with duties in a timely manner, depending on the state, tenants may have multiple options for recourse, such as withholding rent or terminating the lease (read more).

Each state has its own rules on what needs to be provided for living conditions in rentals to be deemed “acceptable”, known as the Implied Warranty of Habitability. Below is a breakdown of those laws as it relates to garbage disposal.

Providing for Garbage Disposal

Landlords are not always required to provide trash cans or receptacles for their tenants. Some states make this the tenant’s responsibility or allow this responsibility to be assigned to the tenant. Also, just because landlords are required to provide trash receptacles does not automatically make them responsible for their maintenance or for making sure trash is collected regularly.

The following chart lists what landlords are required to provide according to state law for each state when it comes to trash receptacles, maintaining or repairing them, and arranging for garbage collection or removal. Any exceptions to the requirements are noted for each state.

Note: the below table only addresses state laws. Always check with county or city housing codes for additional requirements.

STATE Landlord must provide trash cans/bins/receptacles? Landlord must repair/maintain? Landlord must arrange for collection/removal?
Alabama Yes Yes Yes
Alaska Yes Yes Yes
Arizona Yes Yes Yes
Arkansas No No No
California Yes Yes Not Addressed
Colorado Yes Yes Not Addressed
Connecticut Yes Yes Yes
Delaware No No No
Florida Yes except for single-family units and duplexes Not addressed Yes except for single-family units and duplexes
Georgia Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Hawaii Yes except for single-family units Yes except for single-family units Yes except for single-family units
Idaho Yes Not addressed Yes
Illinois Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Indiana Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Iowa Yes Yes Yes
Kansas Yes Yes Yes
Kentucky Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Louisiana Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Maine Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Maryland Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Massachusetts For dwellings with 3 or more dwelling units or rooming house For dwellings with 3 or more dwelling units or rooming house For dwellings with 3 or more dwelling units or rooming house
Michigan For 3-family dwellings or more Not addressed not addressed
Minnesota Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Mississippi No No No
Missouri Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Montana Yes Yes Yes
Nebraska Yes Yes Yes
Nevada Yes Yes Yes
New Hampshire Yes Not addressed Yes
New Jersey For dwellings with 4 or more dwelling units Not addressed For dwellings with 4 or more dwelling units
New Mexico Yes Yes Yes
New York For units with 3 or more families* living together Not addressed For units with 3 or more families* living together
North Carolina No No No
North Dakota Yes Yes Yes
Ohio For dwellings with 4 or more dwelling units in the same structure For dwellings with 4 or more dwelling units in the same structure For dwellings with 4 or more dwelling units in the same structure
Oklahoma For 3-family residences or more For 3-family residences or more For 3-family residences or more
Oregon Yes Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Rhode Island For dwellings with 4 or more dwelling units For dwellings with 4 or more dwelling units For dwellings with 4 or more dwelling units
South Carolina Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
South Dakota Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Tennessee For multi-unit complexes with 4 or more units For multi-unit complexes with 4 or more units For multi-unit complexes with 4 or more units
Texas Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Utah For buildings with more than 2 residential units For buildings with more than 2 residential units For buildings with more than 2 residential units
Vermont Yes Yes Yes
Virginia Yes Yes Yes
Washington Yes except for single-family residence unit Yes except for single-family residence unit Yes except for single-family residence unit
West Virginia Yes except for single-family residence unit Yes except for single-family residence unit Yes except for single-family residence unit
Wisconsin Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Wyoming Not addressed Not addressed Not addressed
Washington, D.C. For residential buildings containing 3 or more dwelling units For residential buildings containing 3 or more dwelling units For residential buildings containing 3 or more dwelling units

* In New York, for the purposes of determining how many “families” are living together, the following are count as 1 family even if they are unrelated:

  1. One person maintaining a household, with less than 5 housemates or roommates.
  2. A group of 2 or more housemates or roommates maintaining the household with a maximum of 6 members.

Making Requests

Tenants must notify the landlord if the landlord’s duties regarding garbage are not being complied with. This is done not only to formally request the landlord to rectify the noncompliance but also to be able to avail of the remedies available to the tenant should the landlord fail to remedy the situation despite the notice.

Depending on the state, this can be done orally or in writing. However, most states only allow for notices to be made in writing. The below table shows which types of repair requests are legally acceptable in each state.

State How Repair Request Can Be Made
In writing (only) Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington
Orally or in writing California, Hawaii, Michigan, New York*, North Dakota, Vermont, DC
NOTE

Even if a state does not require it, it’s highly recommended to put all requests in writing in case there is a dispute about the need for the repair or the timing of the request.

Time to Repair

Below is a table for the time frame landlords have to make the repair, starting the day the request is received.

State How Long Landlord Has to Make Repairs
Alabama As provided in the notice but not less than 14 days
Alaska 10 days
Arizona As provided in the notice but not less than 5 days
California Reasonable time period
Colorado 5 days
Connecticut 15 days
Florida 7 days
Hawaii 7 days
Idaho 3 days
Iowa 7 days
Massachusetts 14 days
Michigan 24 hours to a reasonable time period
Montana 14 days, 3 days if noncompliance results in an emergency
Nebraska 14 days
Nevada 14 days
New Hampshire 14 days
New Jersey Reasonable time period
New Mexico 7 days
New York 5 days
North Dakota Reasonable time period
Ohio Reasonable time period up to 30 days
Oklahoma 14 days
Oregon 30 days
Rhode Island 20 days
Tennessee 14 days
Utah 3-10 days
Vermont Reasonable time period
Virginia 21 days
Washington 24 hours to 10 days
Washington, D.C. Reasonable time period

Tenant’s Options if the Landlord Does Not Comply

Some states offer remedies for tenants if the landlords fail or refuse to comply with the latter’s duties to provide garbage receptacles, repair them or ensure proper collection.

Also, tenants cannot resort to the following remedies if they have not given the landlord appropriate notice/time to make any repairs or correct the issue.

Common remedies tenants have in these situations include:

  • Termination of the lease without losing the deposit or incurring other penalties.
  • Withholding rent until the problem is rectified.
  • Paying for the garbage receptacles, their repair or for collection and thereafter deducting the cost from the rent.
  • Paying less or reduced rent.
  • Suing for damages incurred as a result of the landlord’s failure to comply with duties.
  • Injunctive relief, which will compel the landlord to comply with a certain order of the court to do or not to do something.

We break down tenant options by state in the chart below.

State Terminate the Lease Withhold Rent Cover Costs & Deduct from Rent Reduced Rent Damages Injunctive Relief/ Specific
Alabama Yes Yes Yes
Alaska Yes Yes Yes
Arizona Yes Yes Yes
California Yes Yes Yes Yes
Colorado Yes Yes Yes
Connecticut Yes
Florida Yes Yes Yes
Hawaii Yes
Idaho Yes Yes
Iowa Yes Yes Yes
Massachusetts Yes Yes
Michigan Yes Yes Yes
Montana Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nebraska Yes Yes Yes
Nevada Yes Yes Yes Yes
New Hampshire Yes
New Jersey Yes Yes Yes Yes
New Mexico Yes Yes Yes Yes
New York Yes Yes
North Dakota Yes Yes
Ohio Yes Yes*
Oklahoma Yes Yes Yes
Oregon Yes Yes Yes
Rhode Island Yes
Tennessee Yes Yes Yes
Utah Yes Yes** Yes Yes
Vermont Yes Yes Yes Yes
Virginia Yes
Washington Yes Yes Yes
Washington, D.C. Yes

These remedies would only apply if the landlord knew there was an issue and ignored it or the steps taken were inadequate or wrong.

*In Ohio, the tenant is not allowed to simply withhold the rent, the tenant must “tender” the rent to a relevant court. The court will then hold it as if it were in an escrow, to be delivered to the prevailing party in the suit.

**In Utah, tenants may be able to recover rent that they had already paid on account of the landlord’s noncompliance. 

Breach of Warranty of Habitability Requirement

Some states make the remedies available to the tenant upon the landlord’s noncompliance with the latter’s duties regarding garbage. However, there are some states require some breach of the Warranty of Habitability before the tenant can avail of any of the remedies. That means that the remedies would only be available to the tenant if the landlord’s failure or refusal to comply with the latter’s responsibility has caused the unit to be uninhabitable or has made a health or safety hazard.

We break down this requirement by state in the chart below.

State Is a Breach of Implied Warranty of Habitability Required for the Remedies?
Alabama Yes
Alaska Yes
Arizona Yes
California No
Colorado No
Connecticut Yes
Florida No
Hawaii Yes
Idaho No
Iowa Yes
Massachusetts Yes
Michigan Yes
Montana No
Nebraska Yes
Nevada Yes
New Hampshire Yes
New Jersey Yes
New Mexico Yes
New York No
North Dakota No
Ohio No
Oklahoma Yes
Oregon No
Rhode Island Yes
Tennessee No
Utah Yes
Vermont No
Virginia Yes
Washington No
DC No