Moving Out: Illegal Dumping at Universities

5 Mins

Nothing says graduation like a dumpster overflowing with mini fridges and beer sodden sofas. 

Illegal dumping is a problem at all multifamily properties, but it’s a major problem at off campus housing facilities every spring. More than 18 million American kids are in undergraduate or graduate school every year, and a full 69% of them live nine months of the year in off campus housing. So come graduation, that’s an impressive number of used sofas, mattresses, and small refrigerators mysteriously making their way to a dumpster in the middle of the night. In fact, Tufts University estimates their students dump more than 230 tons of waste every year. In another national analysis, every student at a university produces 640 lbs of trash per year, with the vast majority of it being produced upon their departure in the spring.

What’s the big deal? The cost. 

What Is Illegal Dumping?

Any time an individual – even a tenant – that puts large waste in a dumpster without the owner’s permission is guilty of illegal dumping. And it can have very expensive repercussions for a property owner. 

On average, transporting a lone sofa to a dump will cost you about $45.00 in transport and fees. As a property manager at an off campus housing facility, where 90% of your residents are moving out the same week, you could find yourself the reluctant owner of anywhere from 200-300 used sofas that you now have to pay someone to remove. At $45 a sofa, that’s anywhere between $9000 and $13,500. And you still have the mattresses and refrigerators to go. In short it’s not a cheap or minor problem. 

Illegal Dumping Solutions

So what can you do? Fences, motion-based lights, and warning signs might help to prevent some illegal dumping. Equally, you can offer student tenants  a variety of pre-paid disposal options at escalating costs for move out.  

And some universities have started engaging local charities in advance of move-out to be on hand and grab items suitable for resale. That alleviates some of the waste, but the charities can only take so much. It’s not as though furniture from a college apartment can reliably be described as “gently used.” 

You can have security guards patrol the dumpster during move out week, but that’s an expensive prospect with a very narrow path for success. 

AI Surveillance with Remote Guarding is likely the best solution to stop illegal dumping, not just during move out week, but all the time. With AI, a computer watches the cameras – it’s never bored, it never blinks, it never goes to the bathroom and misses something. And it only draws the attention of remote guards when there is a suspicious event occurring - like a group of students trying to heave a Lay-Z-Boy into your dumpster in the dead of night. The remote guard can Voice Down the perpetrators, let them know this is illegal and that they are being watched and recorded. In more than 90% of cases, that’s enough to get them to abandon their attempt.

AI Surveillance and Remote Guarding is an economical solution that stops crime in real time. Not just illegal dumping, but a host of multifamily and student housing security issues such as car break-ins, bike theft, package theft, vandalism, lease violations, and more. And you can not only reduce losses, but you might just reduce your on-premises security guard costs by as much as 40%. 

For a crash course in AI Surveillance and Remote Guarding in multifamily and student housing, visit us at or schedule an appointment with me today for a free site security consult .

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