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Landlords complain Denver's new trash fee applies even when they don't use the service

The city applies a $9 per unit per month minimum fee to small apartment complexes whether they use city trash and recycling pickup or not.

DENVER — In an alley in Denver's West Wash Park neighborhood, landlords David Boyd and Linh Barger have a trash bin problem. 

They tried to cancel the city trash and recycling service at the two neighboring properties they own when Denver started charging for it earlier this year. Instead, they signed a two-year contract for a Waste Management dumpster. 

But in the struggle to get the city to collect their bins, they learned they'd still have to pay even if they don't use the city's waste service. 

"We shouldn’t be paying for something that we are not using," Barger said. "It’s not fair."

The city's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said it will charge smaller multi-unit buildings the minimum $9 per unit per month fee even if the unit does not have a trash, recycling or compost bin. Larger apartment complexes don't have city waste services. 

"I think it’s unjust," Boyd said. "I mean if they want to collect money from all residents, then I think they should provide a dumpster service."

A city spokesperson said the fee doesn't only pay for the trash pickup, but also other services like large item and hazardous waste disposal, Christmas tree recycling and leaf drop. Those services were previously covered by property taxes. 

The spokesperson said the department recognizes that the new service fees represent a major change to waste pickup and expects users will "grow into this service." She said the city estimates that fewer than 10% of its customers citywide do not have collection service, but will still be charged the fee. 

"Trash is the last thing that I want to talk about," Barger said with a laugh. 

But she said she has to talk about it because it will add up for her – and for her four tenants – to the tune of more than $400 a year. 

"We all know that a lot of landlords won’t eat these costs," she said. "It’s going to go towards the renters and it just doesn’t seem fair for the renters as well."

The city spokesperson asked people with questions about their service or who want to cancel or downgrade to a smaller, cheaper bin to log onto their Denver utilities online account or call 311. 



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