Garbage Collection for Rental Properties in Portland

This post, while brief, is just “garbage.” Yes, I had to fit that in there somehow.

I have found that there is a very common misunderstanding regarding rental properties within the city of Portland when it comes to garbage collection. More specifically, people are misinformed regarding whether or not a tenant can be billed for garbage service.

The short answer is yes, a tenant can be billed for garbage. BUT the city of Portland requires that the owner/landlord be the customer of record. What does this mean? The owner/landlord pays the bill to the garbage company, and the tenant can be billed in arrears for the service.

Here are two key sources of information. First, see the City of Portland Charter, Code and Policies—the relevant section is 29.30.140 Cleanliness and Sanitation. This code is pretty clear on the fact that the owner of a rental property must provide and pay for garbage service. However, nowhere does it prohibit the owner from passing on the cost to the tenant.

Furthermore, the Oregon landlord/tenant law that addresses utility payments, ORS 90.315, does NOT prohibit charging tenants for garbage service.

It is worth noting that municipalities across the state treat utilities differently, including who must be the customer of record. For example, Portland requires that the owner be the customer for garbage, while allowing the tenant to be the customer of record for other utilities; some other cities require that the owner be the customer of record for sewer but not for garbage. Go figure.

So, with that garbage question cleaned up…

Andrew Gilburne
Managing Partner
Portland Homes & Commercial Properties

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