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Can you throw trash in your neighbor’s garbage bin in Germany? Is that allowed?

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The garbage can is full – but there is still garbage there. What should you do with the excess waste? Can it be disposed of in your neighbor’s garbage bin? In many residential complexes this is a constant nuisance.

Some people consider it completely normal to dispose of their garbage in their neighbor’s garbage bins when their own can is full or if they can save costs in this way. The “happy” neighbor is of course less happy about it. Because now he himself may not be able to get rid of his own garbage shortly before emptying it. In addition, garbage cans are usually ordered and paid for according to size. Anyone who deliberately has a bin that is too small saves good money – at the expense of their neighbors. Are there laws in Germany such an inconsiderate act?

Can you disposed of your garbage in a neighbor’s garbage bin in Germany?

neighbor's garbage bin

No. The disposal of rubbish in someone else’s bins can legally be viewed as a so-called disruption of property. There are no court rulings or paragraphs that expressly prohibit the use of third-party garbage cans. But: There are definitely judgments on the dumping of rubbish on other people’s properties (Munich District Court, judgment of September 26, 2011, Az. 231 C 28047/10). The legal situation is very similar.

Property and possession are not the same in legal parlance. An object belongs to the owner, he can freely dispose of it in the legal sense and, for example, sell it. The owner, on the other hand, is whoever actually has the power of disposal over the object. These can be two different people. Whoever orders a garbage can from the municipality and pays for it to be emptied is not its owner, but its owner. That means: Others are not allowed to just do what they want with it and use the bin as they wish. If this is full because someone else has put in their garbage, it is a possession disturbance – if only because the actual owner can no longer use it.

The consequence is that the barrel owner can assert claims for the elimination of the disturbance (removal of the foreign garbage) and – if there is a risk of repetition – for omission according to §§ 1004 and 862 of the German Civil Code (BGB). Damage to be calculated as a sum of money does not have to have arisen for these claims.


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Your garbage in a neighbor’s garbage bin: which German legislation is relevant?

Criminal law is not affected here : there is simply no suitable criminal offense. In addition to the above-mentioned provisions from the German Civil Code, public law provisions are also applicable. How rubbish has to be disposed of is precisely regulated by law. Details can be found in the waste laws of the individual federal states.

The waste disposal is one of the tasks of the municipality and this has a waste statute. This regulates the details. Such statutes can differ in content and also provide for fines for illegal waste disposal.
The catch: This usually means disposal at places not intended for this purpose – for example in the park or on the sidewalk, but not throwing it into a designated garbage can. However, there are sometimes regulations that stipulate throwing it into the garbage cans assigned to a property. The statutes also regularly contain extensive bans on disposing of certain waste in normal garbage cans – such as pollutants, hazardous waste or small electrical appliances. Such a thing is then an administrative offense that can result in a fine.

neighbor's garbage bin

What damages can you face for throwing garbage in a neighbor’s garbage bin?

If, for example, a fine is imposed on the actual bin owner because foreign batteries and solvents are found in his residual waste bin, he has suffered damage. In this case he can claim damages from the polluter – provided he can prove that he has used his garbage can. Another problem can arise if the disposal company does not empty the bins because they are filled incorrectly (e.g. residual waste in the recycling bin). In such a case, too, additional costs may arise, for example for additional removal of the newly sorted garbage.

Who is responsible when garbage ends up in someone else’s garbage bins?

neighbor's garbage bin

The garbage bin owner can file an injunction with a civil court. Here it makes sense to have a lawyer check the chances of success first. If there is a municipal statute in the respective place that prohibits the depositing of rubbish in third-party bins, the public order office of the municipality can also be contacted. However, this will only have immediate consequences if the culprit is known beyond doubt.

In apartment buildings, the following applies: when the bin is full and tenants can no longer put their rubbish in it, the landlord is the first point of contact. This can, for example, initiate a special emptying. The costs incurred for this can be charged to the polluter – if he can be identified. Otherwise, the landlord can also pass on the costs to all tenants (Federal Court of Justice, judgment of February 10, 2016, Az. VIII ZR 33/15). But: Official fines cannot be passed on arbitrarily.

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