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What about that trash?

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What about that trash?


A day in the life of a Seller –
Got a bunch of work to do today…busy working on marketing strategy – the phone rings.

R: Hello, this is Nick Miller; how can I help?

N: Hello, can you tell me about your house listed at 123 ImSold Street?

R: Sure, but it is currently under contract; is there another property that I can help you with.

N: Well, actually I wanted you to know that there’s a bunch of trash in the driveway of your house and there’s paint cans and other hazardous materials there.   Also, the neighborhood kids have gotten into it and it’s a mess.

R: OK, thanks very much for letting me know.  I was just at the property yesterday morning and I didn’t notice this.

N: By the way, I’ve called the City Code Enforcement.

R: OK, thanks; I’ll contact the owner and see  what we can do…

I can’t get ahold of the owners, left a voice message.  What a drag; can’t believe that they moved and left such a mess.  The phone rings.

R: Hello, this is Nick Miller; how can I help?

O: Hello, this is Mr. Smith – I’m the city Code Enforcement officer.  Your property at 123 ImSold Street is in violation of the city’s hazardous waste code.  The only phone number we could find was on your For Sale sign.

R: Yes, thank you.  I recently became aware of the situation and have tried to contact the owners to get someone out there to clean up the mess.

O: I’ll give you 48 hours to clean it up.

R: Can you tell me what the penalties are if I’m not able to get the owners to clean it up?

O: At a minimum there will be a citation and a trash pick-up fee if the city has to clean it up.  The pickup is a minimum of $200 and can reach up to $400.  The citation is a minimum of $400 and can reach up to $2000.  The court decides the penalty.

This is a true story. What lessons should we learn from this experience?  There are several things to consider:

  • Certain household materials are considered hazardous wastes and should be disposed-of properly.  Some materials that may be considered hazardous: flammable and combustible substances (gasoline, oil, paint, paint thinners, solvents, etc.); poisons (insecticides, certain cleaners, etc.); batteries, tires, etc., etc.  For a more complete list see Household Hazardous Waste.
  • Before planning the move be sure to take an inventory of items that will be disposed and insure that you can appropriately dispose of hazardous wastes.
  • Generally the city has some appropriate means to dispose of these materials; make a phone call and determine if there is a hazardous waste dump or other appropriate disposal location.  If the city does not provide a hazardous waste disposal location then seek their recommendation for a company or service that provides such disposal.
  • Insure that you have a plan for all materials left for disposal – insure that the city will pick up everything in a timely fashion.  If you have bulk materials be sure that the city will pick these up, otherwise arrange for disposal with an appropriate company or service.
  • If contacted by your City (or real estate agent!) about a possible violation – be prompt to get it cleaned up!  It could cost you dearly if you don’t…