DSNY Publishes Final Rules to Reduce Hours Trash Stays on Streets
In our November 2022 issue, we covered new trash rules proposed by the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) governing the time for placing solid waste and recyclable materials at the curb for collection. On Nov. 19, DSNY held a public hearing on the proposed rules. Since then, DSNY recently released the Notice of Adoption for the final rules. The rules will go into effect on April 1, 2023.
It's important to understand how these rules may impact your building’s processes and scheduling for your staff. We’ll review the three trash disposal options available to residential buildings and the changes to the proposed rules that were implemented after public comments.
Finalized Set-Out Times
Under the new rules, residential buildings have up to three options, each of which would substantially decrease the amount of time waste is on the curb:
- Place waste out after 6 p.m. in a secure container;
- Place trash out after 8 p.m. if putting bags directly on the curb; or
- If a building has nine or more residential units, the property owner may opt in to a 4 a.m. – 7 a.m. set-out window instead.
The notice clarified rules for commercial establishments that don’t receive service from DSNY but rather from private waste haulers. DSNY rules had allowed commercial establishments to set out trash and recycling one hour before closing or two hours before a scheduled collection. Because these rules were difficult to enforce, DSNY acknowledged that there was a large amount of non-compliance. As a result, a significant amount of commercial trash and recycling bags are at the curb during daytime hours. Businesses may choose from one of the following options:
- Place waste out after 8 p.m. if putting bags directly on the curb; or
- Place waste out one hour before closing in a secure container.
Changes from Proposed Rules
DSNY has amended the originally proposed rules based on comments received from the public.
Bundled cardboard. The first change is to include designated recyclable paper set out without a container provided that the paper is tied and bundled securely. In other words, bundled cardboard, which does not attract rats, may be placed next to the secure container that’s placed outside after 6 p.m. This change applies for both residential and commercial properties.
Multiunit Building Collection Program. The final rule keeps the enrollment-based Multiunit Building Collection Program for multiple dwellings that contain nine or more dwelling units. This program will allow approved buildings with on-site maintenance or janitorial staff to opt to set out waste for collection between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. on the day of collection rather than after 6 p.m. (if in a container with a lid) or 8 p.m. the night before collection. This will provide flexibility to building staff in terms of changes to scheduled shifts necessary to implement this rule change.
The change is that now an owner or agent has the entire month of January to submit an application to DSNY to enroll in the program. The DSNY will approve or deny the application by March 1, and enrollment will be effective April 1. Buildings will have their enrollment automatically renewed each year unless they opt out during the annual program application period. The DSNY may terminate a building’s enrollment in this program at any time with 30 days’ notice if the building’s participation in the program constitutes a public nuisance or if the building fails to comply with the requirements.
The final rule also removed an element of the program requirements from the proposed rule. The Multiunit Building Collection Program section saying that all receptacles shall be removed before 9 p.m. on the day of collection, or if such collection occurs after 4 p.m., then before 9 a.m. on the day following collection, no longer applies.
Mayor Adams Signs Anti-Rat Legislation Package
Mayor Adams recently signed a package of bills designed to combat the city’s rat population. Rodent-related complaints have risen dramatically in recent years. According to DSNY, there have been more than 21,600 rat complaints in 2022. The signed package includes one that allowed DSNY to make the shift in the set-out time for residential and commercial waste (Intro 459-A). Here are the bills that were included in the legislative package:
Intro 459-A: This law requires the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to establish rat mitigation zones by April 1, 2023. It also says that the DSNY can choose the times buildings are required to take out their garbage and recycling for collection.
Intro 414-A: This law requires the DOMHM to issue an annual report on effectiveness of rat mitigation efforts in the various zones.
Intro 442-A: This law aims to reduce the presence of rats in construction areas by requiring proof that an exterminator was hired before construction work began.
Intro 460-A: This law requires buildings that receive two or more rodent-specific Housing Maintenance Code violations, or two or more rodent-specific Health Code violations start using approved rodent-resistant containers for the following two years.
What Health Department Inspectors Look for During Rat Inspections
Owners are required to keep their properties rat-free and address conditions that can lead to rats. If owners aren’t fulfilling their legal requirement to prevent and manage rats and repair conditions that can attract rats, tenants can report the issue online or by calling 311. The Health Department inspects private and public properties for rats. The department will send inspectors to investigate the situation within two weeks of receiving the complaint, unless the property was recently inspected. The property will fail an inspection if any of the following signs are found:
- Live rats
- Rat droppings
- Burrows (places where rats live)
- Gnaw marks from rats’ teeth
- Tracks or runways, such as rub marks or flattened paths outside burrows
- Excessive garbage or clutter that give rats a place to hide
If inspectors find signs of rat activity on your property, you’ll receive a commissioner’s order by mail to fix the situation. The letter will include an inspection report detailing the findings, guidance on how to fix the problems, and the department’s contact information.
About 10 days after an inspection, the Health Department will conduct a follow-up inspection. If the conditions haven’t been corrected, you’ll receive a summons. You can appeal violations to the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. If a summons isn’t dismissed, it can lead to fines of between $300 and $2,000. And the Health Department may provide rat management services on properties where the owner fails to do so—and the owner may be billed for the work.