Can My Neighbor Move My Trash Can? (This Made Them Stop)

Can My Neighbor Move My Trash Can?

Has your neighbor begun a garbage war with you by moving your trash can? Not only is this annoying and disrespectful, but it’s also not allowed depending on your specific situation. Can your neighbor move your trash can without your permission?

Your neighbor should not be moving your trash can, especially if it’s on your property. If your neighbor does this, you could possibly have them charged with trespassing and public nuisance.

We are on your side when it comes to this pesky garbage war and we have the answers to all your questions regarding this. So get your defense team ready and learn exactly what you need to do to get your neighbor to stop touching your trash can. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

While you can’t really watch your trash can 24/7, it’s good to know who is setting foot on your property and what they’re doing.

Having a decent security system like a Ring Video Doorbell or Outdoor Security Cameras (both on Amazon) is a smart thing to do.

If you can catch your neighbor in the act, then you can easily win the case against them in a dispute.

Are Trash Cans Public Property?

In the United States, trash cans are public property since they are owned by the company Waste Management. Waste Management became a public company in 1972. However, the trash cans belong to the property that they are assigned to.  

When you move into a new house, you are assigned a trash can by Waste Management. That trash can does not necessarily belong to you, but to your property. When you move, the trash can stays at your property and you cannot take it with you. 

Since Waste Management is a public company and they own your trash can, your trash can is, indeed, public property.

However, this does not mean that anybody can do whatever they want with your trash can since it is assigned to your property and you are solely responsible for it.

Is Garbage on the Curve Public Property?

Your garbage is considered private property until it enters your garbage can. Therefore, garbage on the curve is considered public property.

However, depending on where you live, your city may have by-laws implemented that refrain people from going through other people’s garbage- sometimes known as dumpster diving or garbage picking. 

Where Should I Put my Garbage Cans Outside

Your garbage can must be placed on your property in a designated area set out by your waste collection company. If it is on the property line of your neighbor’s property, you may be opening yourself up to a conflict.

Your waste collection company or city will provide you with guidelines of where you must place your garbage can for collection purposes.

These guidelines typically define how far away your garbage can has to be from a fence, curb, cars, and other trash cans or bags.

If you are in violation of these guidelines, then you may get fined by your city.

Garbage Cans on the Property Line

If you find your neighbor is putting their garbage bins either on your property or too close to your property line, you may be able to report them to your city or to your homeowner’s association (HOA) if you have one in place. 

Since each owner of a garbage bin is responsible for placing their garbage bin in the appropriate area, if someone is disregarding those guidelines, they may be subject to a fine.

What you can do is contact your HOA if you have one or your municipality and report your neighbor who is violating the guidelines. 

Can Neighbors Move My Trash Cans?

Technically, yes, your neighbors can move your trash cans but where they move it depends on whether or not they are doing something wrong. If they move it onto your property, then they can be charged with trespassing. 

If they take your trash can, then they could be fined by the waste collection company since that trash can does not belong to their property.

If the trash can is moved to a place where it now becomes an obstacle, such as in front of your driveway, then they could be charged with nuisance. 

Neighbor Keeps Moving My Trash Can

If your neighbor keeps moving your trash and it is starting to bother you, the first thing you should do is initiate a conversation about it. Some people think it’s kind to move your trash cans as they believe it is helping you out. On the other hand, some people do it out of spite.

Either way, letting them know that this is bothering you is the first step you can take. Talk to them in person or simply call them and let them know your issue. 

If this doesn’t get you anywhere, you can contact your HOA and report a disturbance.

If you don’t have an HOA, you can contact your municipality or the waste collection company and try to find out if there are rules or regulations in your city regarding this issue and what you can do to make it stop.

How to Stop My Neighbor From Moving My Garbage Can?

Initiating a conversation with your neighbor is the first thing you can do if they are moving your garbage can. If they fail to listen to you, you can report them to your HOA or municipality.

Although your garbage can is public property, it is designated to your property and not your neighbors. Therefore, it is your responsibility to manage the garbage can.

If your neighbor believes they have the right to move your garbage can, then they are wrong and you can likely find someone of authority to make them aware of this. 

Trash Can Laws

Trash can laws vary state by state and even your city can have additional by-laws. Surprisingly, in most states, it is legal to go through someone’s trash but illegal to put your trash in someone else’s bin. 

One man’s waste is another man’s treasure! If you’re a dumpster diver, make sure to check your city’s specific laws regarding this.

There may be by-laws in place in which you get fined if you violate them. Mainly though, this is permitted across the United States. 

If you find your neighbor is putting their trash into your trash can, we have a great blog post explaining exactly how to get them to stop

As for the handling of garbage bins that aren’t yours, there aren’t many laws. However, there are community rules and regulations that you may have to follow and could get fined if you don’t.

Jail time, though, is not usually something to worry about if you’re having a trash can dispute unless you are deliberately vandalizing someone else’s. 

You might also enjoy our post on Neighbor Putting Trash in My Can All the Time

Trash Cans Blocking the Driveway

If your neighbor is placing their trash can in front of your driveway, you should first speak to them about how it is bothering you. If they refuse to listen, then you may be able to charge them with public nuisance.

Starting a lawsuit over a garbage can might seem extreme but if it’s the only thing to get your neighbor to stop being annoying, then go for it.

If the garbage cans are proving to be an obstacle as you try to get in or out of your driveway, then that might be enough to charge your neighbor with public nuisance. 

Also, if these garbage cans are being moved onto your private property, you might be able to charge your neighbor with trespassing. 

How to Place Garbage Cans for Pickup

Your garbage cans should be placed directly in front of your house on the curb. The wheels should be facing towards your house and the metal bar on the back of the garbage can towards the road. This allows for easy garbage collection. 

Your municipality will have specific guidelines regarding where exactly you can place your garbage cans for pickup. Refer to your city’s website for the most up-to-date information. 

Should You Keep Garbage Cans in the Garage?

Keeping garbage cans in your garage is actually an ideal place for them. Most cities require that your garbage cans be out of sight from the street anyway, so this is a great idea. 

Additionally, if your garbage can is placed inside your garage, critters (or even bears) will be less likely to go through it which can cause quite a mess. 

You will also be able to easily access your garbage cans if your garage is connected to your house which is very ideal during those cold winter months. 

Neighbor Putting Trash Cans in Front of My House

Speaking to your neighbor directly is the first step you must take if your neighbor is putting trash cans in front of your house. Not only is this not allowed, but it’s also annoying and disrespectful. 

Your neighbor is possibly unaware of how their actions are making you feel so it is best to make them aware of what you are feeling about their trash cans.

If they choose to not care then there are some steps you can take.

Municipalities have guidelines of where your trash can should be placed and that is always in front of your own house, not your neighbors.

If your neighbor is disregarding these guidelines, then you can report them to your HOA. If you don’t have an HOA, report them to your city.

If the trash cans are acting as an obstruction to your daily activities, such as driving in and out of your driveway, then it’s possible you can charge your neighbor with public nuisance.

If you don’t charge them with public nuisance initially, you can at least make them aware that this could be a possibility in the future if they continue to choose not to listen. 

Can My Neighbor Put Their Trash Cans in Front of My House?

Your neighbor should not be putting their trash cans in front of your house since the guidelines for garbage collection clearly states that trash cans should be placed in front of your own house and not your neighbors.

Your neighbor has no reason to do this other than to be annoying. If this is a problem that is bothering you, first speak to your neighbor about it.

If they choose not to listen, consult with your HOA or your city to find out the specific laws regarding this.

It’s possible you could take your neighbor to court over this pesky issue. 

Best Place to Store Garbage Cans

Your garage is an ideal place to store your garbage cans because it is protected from the elements, from pesky critters who cause a mess as they eat through your garbage, and it is close to your house so you don’t have to travel far to drop off garbage. 

If a garage isn’t an option for you, besides your house is another ideal place, as long as it does not cross onto your neighbor’s property.

Keep in mind that it is typical for municipalities to enforce that garbage cans must be out of view from the street.

So make sure your garbage cans are either behind a fence or far enough back so they can’t be seen. 

Where to Place Garbage Cans

For collection, garbage cans should be placed in front of your house on the curb or right beside your street. The wheels should face towards your house and the metal bar on the opposite side towards the street. 

Your city may also have guidelines that state which side of the road your garbage cans should be placed on.

If you live on a one-way street, it’s likely that your garbage cans can only go on one side to allow for easier collection. 

Neighbor Putting Their Garbage Can on My Property

If your neighbor won’t stop placing their garbage can on your property, you can possibly have them charged with trespassing since they are entering your private property with their garbage can. 

But, before you resort to this, it’s always a good idea to speak with your neighbor first. It’s possible that since they have been getting away with this for a certain amount of time, they feel as though it doesn’t bother you.

So, best to lay it straight to them and tell them how you really feel. 

If they disregard your feelings, you can report them to your HOA, if you have one, or your municipality.

If all else fails, report them to the police and work on getting a lawsuit started. It’s possible you can have your neighbor charged with trespassing and/or vandalism. 

Neighbor Garbage Problem

If your neighbor is causing you grief over their careless garbage practices, then there may be something you can do. First, speak with your neighbor directly and voice your concerns. If this fails, report them to your HOA, your municipality, or to the police.

Depending on what issues you are facing with your neighbor, there may be some laws or even guidelines to protect you and achieve justice.

Either way, your neighbor needs to be respectful of you and your property so let them know how they are bothering you and go from there. 

Garbage Can Etiquette

Your garbage can is your responsibility and no one else’s. It is up to you to manage it. You are responsible for placing it correctly for the garbage pick up and then taking it back to your home when the collection is complete before a designated time.

Your city will specify a certain time when your garbage cans need to be off the street and placed back to where you keep them. This is usually around 7 pm. 

If you do not have any verbal agreement to move your neighbor’s garbage can, then don’t- even if you think it’s helping them. It’s possible that it could annoy them, as well.

So, remain the manager of your garbage can and yours only, unless you have agreed on something with your neighbor. 

Is It Illegal to Leave Garbage Cans Out

Typically, your city will have its own laws about when a garbage can has to be taken off the streets and it is illegal to not abide by these laws. Having a garbage can left out on the streets can cause a disturbance to the neighborhood and you could likely be charged with public nuisance. 

With that said, double-check with your city’s website about when you should take your garbage cans in so you don’t disobey any laws. If you do, you will likely be fined and/or charged. 

Backing Into the Garbage Can

If your neighbor has unexpectedly moved their garbage can into your driveway and you backed into it, it’s possible that you could hold them accountable since your garbage can is not theirs to touch. 

Your neighbor should never be touching your garbage can especially if you are following all guidelines and not causing any nuisance.

If your neighbor moved their garbage can into your driveway, they could be possibly charged with trespassing and/or public nuisance since they now turned your garbage can into a driving obstacle.

If you believed they did this as a malicious act, report them to the police.

Blocking Parking Space With Bin

If your neighbor is blocking your parking space with their trash bin, speak to them immediately. They may be unaware that you use that space to park. If they choose to ignore your request, you can report them to the city. Parking spaces are meant for cars and not for garbage bins. 

Since a parking zone is meant for only cars, your neighbor has no right to put their garbage bins there. Their garbage bins should be on the sidewalk or their yard, not in a parking space.

Speak to them directly and then the city if they fail to listen to you. It is likely that your city has a law against this practice and you can look into charging your neighbor. 

Leaving Garbage Cans on the Street

Within a municipality, there are specific time frames when your garbage can be left on the street. Typically, it is until 7 pm the day of garbage collection. Leaving your garbage cans out any later can get you fined.

If your neighbor is disrespecting this time frame, then report them to the city. Leaving garbage cans on the street is dangerous for drivers and unsightly for your neighborhood. 

Neighbor Blocking Trash Pick Up

If your neighbor is consistently blocking your trash pick-up, you can complain to your municipality. Do this by either sending a written complaint through your city’s website or by calling them.

It is your right to have your trash picked up and if anyone is interfering with that, then you must take action as that is not right. Begin by speaking with your neighbor about it as they may be unaware of their actions.

If this does not work, file a complaint to your city and they will take the necessary action. 

Related Questions

How Do You Hide Outdoor Garbage Cans?

The best place to hide your outdoor garbage cans is in your garage. This deters any critters from going through your trash and is a convenient location for you.

If you do not have a garage, you can place your garbage cans on the side of your house if there is a fence in front of them or behind your house. This may seem too far to roll your garbage cans to but most cities have a law that you cannot let your garbage cans be seen from the street.

How to Request a New Garbage Can

Request a new garbage can by contacting your city. You can either request a new garbage can by filling out a form on your city’s website or dialing 311. 

Your city’s website will likely have a place to request a new garbage can, like this page from the city of Huntsville Alabama. If you cannot find the page right away, search for sanitation, or garbage bins.

You will likely be taken to the city’s sanitation page and from there will be able to find the request form easily.

If this seems too daunting, dial 311, which is your city’s information center. From there you will be able to easily request a garbage bin. 

How Do You Mark Garbage Cans?

The most efficient way to mark your garbage cans is by using stencils. Simply place the stencil where you would like your numbers and letters to be and tape them on. Then, use spray paint to fill in the stencil. Wait roughly 10 minutes for the spray paint to dry before taking off the stencils. 

These trash can stencils are perfect for making the job easy. The best place to place your stencils is on both sides of your garbage can. This way they won’t interfere with any markings that originally came on the garbage can and they will also be easily seen from any side. 

Final Thoughts

Indeed having your neighbor move your trash can is an inconsiderate and selfish act on their part, not to mention just downright annoying. 

Always remember to speak to them first before reporting them to the city or the police. It’s possible they think they are doing you a favor or just have no idea how it makes you feel. 

Keeping your neighborly relationships friendly will make your life easier in general. But, if they choose not to listen, then thankfully you now know what you need to do to get them to leave your trash alone.