Sewer Issues...Caused By Tenant...How Do You Handle?

QUESTION:  How do you handle Sewer Issues caused by a Tenant?-  Do you have in your Park Rules that Tenants pay for Sewer Issues caused by them (wipes, condoms, cotton balls, prescription medication, paper towels, cigarette butts, band-aids, dental floss, fats, oil and grease)?-  If the Tenants pay for Sewer Issues, how long do you give them to pay?-  If the Tenant is supposed to pay for Sewer Issues and does not pay, how long do you give them to pay?As per Jim Allen:“A Sanitary Sewer System is only designed for the 3 P’s to go into it, as follows:Pee, Poop, and (toilet) Paper.”-  Do you tell your Tenants that a Sanitary Sewer System is only designed for the 3 P’s [Pee, Poop, and (toilet) Paper]?  Thanks So Very Much!

You make sure tenants are abundantly clear of what can go into drains. This is for the protection of your property.If it can be proven beyond a doubt the tenant has caused the trouble I will bill them and they will have 30 days to pay or arrange payments.

Greg, thanks for your comment!How do you tell your Tenants what can go into the drains? Do you saw the 3 P’s or describe it in other ways?

For tenant education, use can use the what2flush program at Orange County Sanitation District,  , which uses the 3 P’s idea.  I would point out that people from other countries often bring habits from their home countries that may need to be adjusted to our sewer systems.
You want, of course, to be equally, even overly fair to all of your tenants.  The only way to prove that a specific tenant was to blame for a clog would be based on what you find in the lateral line between his MH and the first Y or T that his line runs into.
As for accountability, I think writing that 3P policy into the lease or rental agreement would be reasonable.  Reasonable because these other things outside of the 3P’s are not digestible when they get to the sewer plant.  The sewer plant handles the non-digestibles by ‘raking’ them out of the influent at the head of the plant then transporting them as hazardous waste to a dump.  Of course, this is expensive, and part of your existing sewer bill is paying for this.  If these things went to the dump in the normal household waste stream it would be far cheaper.  As for wording for the lease, it may be best to make it plain and simple.  The 3 P’s can go into the sewer and not wipes, cigarette butts, feminine products, fat, oil, grease, paint, solvent, thinner, pesticides, medicines, prescriptions, and so on.  A lawyer could write an exhaustive list in boiler plate language.
Since many sewer plants’ outflows go into the navigable waters of the United States, it’s everyone’s responsibility to use the sanitary sewer system in the manner in which it was designed.
Concerning the wipes, they are a special case.  No matter what it says on the package, none of them are flushable, period, but all of them are disposable in the trash.  Almost all of them are made of non-woven material, some type of plastic, and are not digestible.  In addition, they have a tendency to foul pumps in lift stations in a process called ‘ragging up’ the pump, they snag on very small imperfections inside sewer lines, and they clog grinders used at the sewer plants called muffin monsters.  I’m not making this up, folks, these wipes are just about the worst thing possible to ever happen to a sanitary sewer system.  The worst, of course, would be a major earthquake.  To read about non-woven fabrics go to
Jim Allen

When a tenant is billed back for their situation that caused the problem the WORD spreads  fast and the information is quickly absorbed by the other tenants.    We had to  bill back only once and we tell the tenant if THEY call the plumber without confirming the problem with us first it is their bill. . 

Jim, thank you so very much for your comments!  We greatly appreciate it!Jim, you are obviously very well educated on Sanitation issues.Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us!My Husband and I were having a discussion about telling our Tenants that only the 3 P’s should go into the toilet.  Previously, we had a Tenant who put Baby Wipes down the toilet and it caused a blockage.Just last week we had one Tenant who put Paper Towels down the toilet and it caused a blockage.I never would have guessed that someone would actually put Paper Towels down the toilet.  Obviously, I was wrong.Thus, I sent this Tenant an email informing them that only the 3 P’s went into the toilet.My Husband thought that I was treating them like a child.My take was that I was educating them (as they obviously did not know what should or should not be put in a toilet).Jim, thank you again so very much!

Carl, thank you so very much for your comments!

Kristin:The fact is tenants do know what can and can’t be flushed but those that flush things they shouldn’t don’t care. When they behave like children they deserve to be treated like children. Many need to be trained to be good tenants much like a puppy needs training. However as soon as you add that they will be paying they grow up really fast. 

Carl makes a good point about money, that it gets people’s attention.  So, it’s a good tool to get compliance.  I don’t get the paper towel thing either, Kristin.  Some of those paper towels are even advertised as being strong enough to soak with soap and water then use as washcloths.  If you can get your tenants to stick to the 3 P’s thing you will have a high functioning collection system that operates 24/7.  When you think about it, there pretty much isn’t any other man-made system that runs 24/7 without flaw or fail.I would point out that, in general, tenants aren’t rocket scientists.  I certainly had my fill of them during the years I owned SFR’s.  Sometimes you just have to treat them like children.  I work at a medium size med center hospital complex with slightly less than 60 people in the maintenance dept.  Talk about kids, they don’t put their tools away, they take someone else’s food out of the fridge, they don’t do the paperwork on their assigned tasks.  But just wait until they get shorted on their paycheck.  Holy cow, what an end-of-the-world train wreck that is.  I agree, Kristin, that there is a childish element to the 3 P’s thing, but you know what?  Even the children can understand it.  Thus, the adults should be able to master it.Jim Allen

Jim, thank you so very much for your comments!Jim, I love your line:“I agree, Kristin, that there is a childish element to the 3 P’s thing, but you know what?  Even the children can understand it.  Thus, the adults should be able to master it.”

This happened a few years ago.       A tenants sewer was plugged and the plumber found the problem and presented it to the tenant 's wife and she boldly proclaimed it was NOT her underwear.      The husband within 4 months was single.