Can You Get Fined for Leaving Trash Cans Out? (We Checked)

Can You Get Fined for Leaving Trash Cans Out

Leaving your trash cans out on the curb for too long can be a nuisance to your neighbors and the community as a whole. But did you know that it could also result in a fine?

In many cities, leaving your trash cans out for an extended period of time can result in a fine. The exact amount and enforcement of the fine can vary from city to city, but it’s important to be aware of the local regulations in your area to avoid any potential penalties.

The best practice would be to take your trash cans in when you see the trash has been collected or immediately when you get home at night. Communities are very proud of (and particular about) the ‘picture’ being portrayed to the public. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

There are ways that you can make your trash look better to the outside eye. You can build/buy a storage box for your trash cans or choose alternative designs rather than traditional black trash cans. We’ve compiled some products that you can use that might help you miss a potential fine.

Products to make trash storage look better

1. 2-Pack Heavy Duty Trash Cans – ideal 32-gallon trash can sort your waste into recyclable and non-recyclable.
2. Suncast Hideaway Trash Can– better looking than regular black trash cans but serves the same purpose.
3. Trash Can Storage – perfect for eliminating the ‘eyesore’ of trash cans in your yard.

When and Where to Put Out Trash

Putting your trash cans out can be a tricky situation, especially if you live within an HOA (HomeOwners’ Association) that has strict rules regarding trash cans on the side of the road.

The Ideal Time To Take Your Trash Can Out

Most cities, like Waltham, Massachusetts, advise residents to put their trash cans outside the night before a scheduled trash pickup day. This is to ensure that your trash is out the next morning when the trash collection truck comes around.

If you forget to put them out the previous night, attempt to have them on the street by 7 am on the morning of the scheduled pickup. Usually, the trucks will start their routes at 7 am, so you should be safe if yours are on the curb by 7 am.

When You Should Roll Your Trash Can Back in

On the day your trash has been collected, your trash can should be rolled back into your yard by the end of the day. Some municipalities are more strict than others. However, leaving your garbage lying around could lead to a fine.

The exact amount of the fees will differ depending on your state. In most cases, you can expect a $25 fee the first time you leave your trash can outside. Every time thereafter, you can expect a higher fee.

You should be 100% sure of which day to take your trash out because if you take it out on the wrong day, you can also expect a fine. This is mainly to prevent the ‘eyesore’ of a trash can on the side of the road. It’s not very pretty to look at, so the municipality does not want trash cans outside on the wrong day.

You might also enjoy our post on Whether Your Neighbor Can Move Your Trash Can

How Long to Leave the Can Out

You can take your trash out the night before your scheduled trash collection. This ensures that your trash can is out whenever the truck comes around. You should roll your trash can back in as soon as possible after the trash has been collected.

Most cities recommend taking your trash can in by 7 pm on the day of collection to prevent anyone from leaving their trash cans outside for more than 24 hours.

Common Fines and Tickets

There are various fines and tickets that could be issued for improper waste etiquette. Not only can the municipality fine you, your HOA can also give out penalties and fines for their own set of rules and regulations. 

These are some of the reasons you would expect a fine from the waste department of your municipality: 

  • Fine for improper disposal of hazardous waste
  • Fine for leaving your trash can outside for longer than necessary (per day)
  • Fine for illegal waste disposal (if you throw your waste in the wrong place or trash can)

It’s considered good practice to take your trash cans back to your property the same night that the trash is collected. 

You should never place your trash cans in the street where they could be hazardous for oncoming traffic (such as cars, bicycles, or any other vehicles).

Where to Store Your Trash Cans

The rule of thumb is that your trash cans should not be visible from the street when it’s not the scheduled trash collection day. You can store your trash cans in the garage or next to the side of your house.

You shouldn’t keep your trash cans in front of your house for the whole week as this could be classified as an ‘eyesore.’ Some neighborhoods might be more strict than others when enforcing this rule.

What About the Neighbor’s Trash?

If your neighbor’s trash can is standing on your property, you can move it to the front of their property. It’s not considered illegal to move your neighbor’s trash can. Depending on the circumstances, some neighbors might assume this is rude, while others might think you’re doing them a favor.

It is not a crime to move your neighbor’s trash can or for your neighbor to move yours. If your neighbor constantly moves your trash can (for no real reason), you could have them charged for trespassing.

Throwing Trash in Your Neighbor’s Trash Can

Technically, you can throw your trash into your neighbor’s trash can if it’s on the curb, waiting for the trash truck. Throwing your garbage in their bin is not considered illegal since the trash goes to the same landfill.

One exception is if you try to dispose of hazardous waste in your neighbor’s trash can. You could be issued with a hefty fine for careless disposal.

You might also enjoy our post on What to Do If Your Neighbor Puts Trash in Your Can

Final Thoughts

It might seem ridiculous, but you could get fined for leaving your trash cans out. It’s best to bring them into your yard as soon as possible and read up on your local waste disposal regulations.

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