Leniency on rubbish advocated

Student rubbish on Leith street being picked up by Envirowaste. Photo by ODT.
Student rubbish on Leith street being picked up by Envirowaste. Photo by ODT.
Angry a member was fined $100 after tenants put out their rubbish too early for collection, the Otago Property Investors Association says there should be some leniency in Dunedin's student area at the end of the year because it is an ''exceptional situation''.

But the council says leaving rubbish on the street for an extended period of time is a health and safety issue, and if people are not going to be home the day of collection, they should take their rubbish to a transfer station or arrange for someone else to put it out for them.

In a media release, association executive member Cliff Seque criticised the Dunedin City Council's issuance of a fine.

If the city wanted to encourage students to do the right thing by putting out their rubbish and leaving their flats tidy, then there had to be some give and take, he said.

''What student would be happy getting a $100 fine for this?

"It is an exceptional situation in the north end of Dunedin because we have large numbers of students coming and going at certain times of year, so it should be treated differently. Surely there could be something worked out instead of fining people.

''Is this the lasting impression of Dunedin we want to give students?''

The landlord was fined after his tenants, at the end of last year, put out their rubbish, in the correct bins, several days before collection because they were leaving town.

The council's solid waste bylaw stipulates no rubbish can be put out on the street before 7pm the day before scheduled collection.

The bylaw also says that if there is an accumulation of rubbish which is, or is likely to be, either a nuisance, injurious to health, a fire risk, cause an offensive smell or is otherwise offensive, a source of litter or which may harbour vermin, an authorised officer may issue a notice of removal.

If the rubbish is not removed within 24 hours, a fine of $100 can be issued.

Mr Seque said the move to fine the landlord was unusual in his experience, and displayed ''a lack of common sense'' by the council.

It made no sense to penalise these tenants when the council collected, on what seemed like a weekly basis, broken furniture and rubbish in non-regulation bags from around the university without imposing fines.

The association was upset no-one from the council contacted the member before fining him, and that a note suggested he should seek reimbursement from his tenants.

''This seems pretty unreasonable.''

Council waste manager Ian Featherston said the council did not provide a service to collect large furniture items from the kerbside.

It was, however, obliged under the Litter Act to clear illegally dumped rubbish.

It was important households did not put out their rubbish and recycling for collection earlier than the night before the scheduled collection, because it could attract pests and present a hazard to footpath users.

Once tenants had vacated properties, the council had no way of tracing them, and they were authorised to issue the fine to the owner of the property under the Litter Act.

The council worked closely with the student community to encourage appropriate waste disposal, he said.

''We had approached the association to speak to their executive meeting about the [rubbish] issue in general, but are still awaiting a response.''

Mr Seque said the association was trying to find a time to hear from the council.

He said most tenants did not have cars, hence could not use the transfer station.

debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

students and rubbish

I know from experience having been a landlord in the past that it is better to encourage and support a flat tidy up than to leave it to the four winds. It makes it much faster to re-let because who will want to look at a flat with rotting rubbish on the footpath.

Ultimately it is the landlords' responsibility to make sure rubbish isn't left lying around - they own the property. So only fair they are fined if not compliant. 

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