“The rats have joined the flies and birds over the 2 days this pile has been in our lives.”

trash pile
1605 New Jersey Ave, NW

“Dear PoPville,

Our neighbors moved out last week and left a glorious pile of junk, trash, and waste behind for us. The rats have joined the flies and birds over the 2 days this pile has been in our lives. The tenant committed to removing the garbage but he seems to be operating on a far different timescale than his former neighbors.

I’ve filed 311 complaints with Sanitation (for the junk) and Health (for the wildlife) but I am curious if there is a more immediate step I can take to get this pile removed or, at the very least, a citation of the tenant or landlord. If other folks have dealt with this, I’d love to hear how they handled things. Unfortunately I don’t have contact info for the tenant or the landlord.”

35 Comment

  • If it’s important for it to be gone sooner and you aren’t worried about punishing the current homeowner, call the bulk trash pick up line

    • Not sure if they would be helpful. When calling 311 to schedule a bulk pick-up, you are limited to 7 items per appointment, and the items are limited to a specific list of acceptable bulk items.

      • List it as illegal dumping.

        • I don’t think listing it as illegal dumping makes it move any faster; it can still take up to two weeks for the dumped items to disappear. (Which — now that I think about it — is usually the waiting time when I’ve scheduled bulk pickups via 311 for my own items.)
          .
          If you make a 311 request regarding someone else’s dumped stuff, DPW will close out the 311 request almost immediately… but open a new 311 request for its team to get rid of the items.

  • Tsar of Truxton

    I don’t see how this is the new tenant’s problem. I am sure he or she would love it gone as well, but this is on the last tenant and the landlord (who can withhold security deposit money to pay for removal).

  • I would bet that the rats were already present. Now they just have a new playground.

    Just be glad it is not happening during a holiday weekend. Imagine July 4th with that mess. Such is city life.

  • Call the MOCR office for your Ward. They can help.

    https://mocrs.dc.gov/page/about-mocrs

    • +1. Some of the MOCRs are very good (even if their acronym does make me think of Ringo Starr). And they can be especially useful in situations where your councilmember’s constituent services people are unsatisfactory.

  • Very much tongue in cheek, a gallon of gasoline and a match would probably get an instant response from the DC powers that be, a Pile-O’-Refuse-BQ . . . .

  • Does trash collection not pick up most of that stuff? I had a roommate who left a bunch of crap in our trash area and it was taken away. Nothing this bad, but definitely lots of bags outside the bins and housewares type stuff. Granted, it was a 4 unit building so we had private trash pick-up and no one had to move the bins to the curb. People who pull this crap gross me out.

    • We had a similar situation, and week after week, the pile of garbage and full supercans were untouched by DPW. Numerous 311 requests were closed without any action taken. That’s when I started daily tweets to DPW of the rotting food and overflowing mess. It was finally gone over a month after the tenants moved out.

    • In short, no. Regular trash collection doesn’t pick this kind of stuff up, and definitely not if the pile is on private property. Bulk trash collection only picks up certain kinds of trash (see DPW website for details) and only upon making a scheduled appointment and only if it’s placed where normal trash collection takes place.
      .
      Frankly, this type of thing is precisely why landlords collect a security deposit. The landlord should hire someone to haul this crap to the dump and take the cost out of the security deposit. If they don’t, the landlord should be cited and fined by DPW, who can be pretty ruthless if you manage to get them to send an inspector over.

      • +1 to Anonymous 3:21 pm’s first paragraph.
        .
        I think a lot of tenants (and even landlords) either don’t understand how bulk collection works or don’t care. I feel like I’m constantly having to file 311 reports because people along my alley keep leaving bulk trash items in the alley without scheduling actual bulk pickup.

    • “Does trash collection not pick up most of that stuff?” I think this is the problem — a lot of people are accustomed to just putting unwanted stuff out for trash collection and having it disappear. And maybe that’s how it works with municipal trash collection in a lot of areas… but not in D.C.

  • OP here. No new tenant yet. I was referring to the tenant that left us this gift. Sorry for the confusion.

    I’ve lived here for 9 years and have never had the number of rats we’ve had in the last 3 days. You may be right that they were here all along, Anonymouse. But they sure weren’t skittering past my dog and my kids to get to this sweet, delicious pile o trash, like they are now.

    At the end of the day, I am bummed that people I got along with would be this thoughtless.

    • Ew. I’m sorry this is happening to you! That’s really … trashy… of them.

    • This is the homeowner’s responsibility at this point. 312 request should earn the landlord a ticket which would hopefully get them to act on this mess.

    • I was confused about this too — I thought that maybe a bunch of people in a group house had left, and the group house’s remaining tenant was trying to do something about the stuff they left behind.
      .
      But all of the tenants corresponding to the household have left?

    • If you search the property tax website, you can look up a bill for the address, and you’ll get a name and hopefully a mailing address for the owner.

  • You can go to the DC tax/property site to look up the owner of the property (I’ll post link separately in a reply in case it doesn’t make it past filters, but you can google “dc property sales” and it’s the first link to come up). I did a search on the address with the picture, and it doesn’t come up in an address search, but if you’re on the same block, you should be able to enter your block number, and it will pull up all the addresses, and you can click on the one above, and it will give you owner name and contact address.

  • It’s been my experience that trash collection requests take a week or more. One time someone dumped several large couches piled on top of each other behind my back gate such that I could not get my car out. It took DC a week to remove it. Did you actually talk to a person or report it via the app? I’ve found that calling and speaking to a live person tends to get the job done sooner- but definitely not immediately.

  • Deepest sympathies. The yard of the vacant property next to me has a massive pool of standing water, the owner won’t return my messages, and the only way to access it is through the apartment so I can’t drain it. The mosquitoes are already swarming. (I’m going to buy some dunks tonight to chuck over the fence, and I emailed the DC Mosquito Hotline–hopefully something will work!) Boo to bad neighbors!

    • Tell me more about this – I have a similar problem. I live in an English basement and at the bottom of the stairs is an outdoor drain. Every year it fills with standing water that the landlord won’t address and so every year mosquitoes SWARM whenever I come in our out, get inside my apartment, etc. Can you put something in the water to kill/stop them from growing?

      • Go to a hardware store and ask for mosquito dunks. I know Fragers hardware on the Hill has them. I think they kill the larva. Anyway, they do work.

      • “Every year it fills with standing water that the landlord won’t address” — Whoa… that is really foolish on the landlord’s part; in a heavy rain, the basement could flood if that drain is clogged. He/she really needs to get a plumber out there to clear the drain.
        .
        L, you can try Mosquito Dunks (or a similar product named Mosquito Bits)… but depending on how DIY-ish you’re feeling, you might also want to try having a go at the drain with a plumbing auger (a.k.a. plumbing snake), which costs about $18. Or even a toilet snake (around $9) — the angle is such that you won’t be able to get it in all the way, but the handle means that you can insert it in the drain with more force/oomph. (The plumbing auger was rather deficient in this respect.)
        .
        I tried to unclog an exterior drain myself with a plumbing snake and toilet snake, but didn’t succeed with either. Eventually I had to get a plumber out for something else, so I had him address the exterior drain at the same time.

        • Definitely will get my own dunks, anything is better than getting bitten up or even inhaling mosquitoes (blech) when I’m trying to get in and out. I didn’t know those were a thing, so thank you! I will also keep after clearing the drain. I have cleared my own bathtub drain with a snake before, so maybe I SHOULD just take the matter into my own hands. There is indeed some pooling and the like in heavy rain.

  • Post an ad on Craigslist for free stuff before it rains tonight.

  • What would happen if it caught fire?!

  • Perhaps, you can clean it yourself? I know it’s not fair but sometimes, it is the quickest (and only) way to get things done. FWIW, I went through the same thing. I waited five days and and when the forecast called for rain, I got busy because I didn’t want to be swarmed by the mosquitoes that would inevitably breed in the trash . I didn’t create the problem but I was the one suffering from it. So, I dealt with it and cleaned it up.

  • This mess appears to be on private property. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of DCRA to enforce. Many of you are face-palming already. For those of you who aren’t, here’s how sanitation enforcement on private property from DCRA goes:
    .
    (0…for fun). File 311 request. Do it online for the humor. They will reply and tell you to contact DCRA and wash their hands of it. So much for “centralized services.”
    1. Call DCRA at 442-4400. You’re going to get shuffled around about 6 times. Write down every name and phone number you cross along the way.
    2. They will send an inspector out (probably sometime in the next 5 days), who will likely write a warning. The warning gives the property owner 7 days to clean up.
    3. They’re supposed to reinspect after 7 days. They won’t. Repeat step 1.
    4. Another warning will be issued. Another 7 days, another repeat of step 1.
    5. At this point, the inspector may cite the property owner. That still doesn’t force them to clean it up, just fines them.
    6. If it’s still not clean 7 days after the citation, repeat step 1. At this point, there’s a decent chance that they’ll send a crew to clean it and bill the owner.
    .
    Including the 3-5 day response times for each warning/citation, it’ll be 40+ days from your initial complaint. I’m familiar with this process after a neighbor (still living in the property!) got new furniture a couple months ago and just left the old on their front lawn. I couldn’t haul away mattresses and recliners and dressers myself, and then there’s the risk of craziness or hurting yourself while trespassing (because, well, you are).
    .
    While it looks like this is small enough that cleaning it up yourself is an option, I’d be wary if I knew there were rats nesting in there and the like. I’d be worried about getting bitten as I dig through their new home, and note that you are trespassing, so that would complicate matters (you’re certainly not going to recover anything for treatment, at least).