Dumpster Rental Terms and Conditions: A Closer Look at the Fine Print

Dumpster rental rules

Before renting a dumpster or dump trailer, it’s important to understand the minute details of the terms and conditions of the rental agreement.

It will help avoid surprises later on, such as additional charges being added to your final bill due to overages.

Read the tips below to become a more informed dumpster rental customer.

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Weight allowance

All About Weight Allowances

You are typically given a maximum weight limit by the dumpster company.

This is referred to as the “weight allowance,” and there are two main reasons rental companies have them:

  1. The trucks can only handle a certain amount of weight. Exceeding this limit could damage the truck and/or cause unsafe driving conditions.
  2. Landfill dump fees are charged by the ton, so to maintain a sustainable business, rental companies must set weight limits on each load.

Weight allowances vary by company but can range from 1-8 tons or more.

In some cases, you’ll be offered an unlimited weight allowance but you must still abide by the rules of loading the dumpster to a specified height limit and never exceeding the top rim of the container.

Either way, not following your rental agreement terms can make you incur overage fees that increase the price of your final bill.

TIP: Be particularly careful of exceeding the weight allowance when loading heavy debris, such as concrete, dirt, or roofing shingles. Most containers have a fill line inside the dumpster to help you stay under the weight limit.

What Happens When You Overfill the Dumpster?

Dumpster overages

If you fill the roll-off above the designated fill line – there’s generally a separate fill line for construction debris and for household junk/waste – the dumpster company has the right to remove some or all of the load.

In many cases, you as the customer are responsible for unloading the material/debris until the load complies with the rental company’s policy.

By law, they cannot haul the bin with waste, junk, or debris exceeding the top of the container.

Additionally, they need to tarp the load and if they cannot secure the tarp down properly, they may need to remove some debris from the top.

If you are not on-site during the dumpster pickup, the driver may remove some debris from the dumpster to comply with local rules and regulations.

They would leave the debris on-site and you would be responsible for disposal.

Alternatively, the driver may not pick up the container at all and you would be assessed a trip charge on your final invoice.

Rental Duration

Dumpster checklist

The rental provider’s terms will spell out the standard rental duration.

In most cases, a 7-day or 10-day rental period is the norm.

You can often extend or shorten these terms upon request.

There is typically a small daily fee for extending the rental period which runs around $10-$20 on average.

To have the container picked up early, give your rental provider a call and request an early pickup.

They may or may not have a driver available to pick it up the same day, so it’s best to plan ahead and schedule this.

Ending the Rental Early

ending your rental early

To end the rental and have the container picked up early, simply call the dumpster company for an early pickup.

You will not receive a discount for ending the rental agreement early.

There’s no guarantee the dumpster company will be able to pick up the container that day or the next; it depends upon their availability to get a truck out to your site.

What Happens When the Driver Can’t Pick Up the Rental?

blocking an accessible path

There are scenarios where the truck driver would not be able to pick up the loaded dumpster.

Here are three common reasons:

  1. The container is overfilled and/or too heavy to pick up. Dumpster trucks have a maximum lifting and carrying capacity and if your load exceeds that amount, the driver has no other option than to leave the container on site.
  2. Hazardous materials or mixed wastes are dumped into the roll-off container. Chemicals and flammable wastes are not allowed in most cases, and it’s unsafe for the driver to haul such debris. Mixing trash and debris into a clean-loaded dumpster – “clean loads” are dumpsters filled with only one type of debris, such as concrete – could result in the driver not hauling away the container from the job site.
  3. Something is blocking access to the dumpster. For example, a car is in the way. Be sure the truck driver has plenty of access to the dumpster during the scheduled pickup time.

These can become expensive mistakes on the part of the customer.

Even though the driver doesn’t haul away the dumpster, the customer is usually charged a “trip fee” for driving out to the site.

The trip fee covers the time and fuel involved in the pick-up.

These fees vary, but you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $75 to $150 each time the driver comes out.

How to Avoid Trip Fees

remove items from an overfilled dumpster

Here are few tips to help avoid trip charges, or at least resolve the issue so the driver can ultimately haul the dumpster off the site:

  • Have the dumpster debris loaded below the top of the container. Most municipalities require this for safety purposes during the transport of the container.
  • Don’t mix trash and other wastes in with clean-loaded containers. If trash did somehow get mixed in, remove it.
  • Likewise, remove any hazardous wastes that may have gotten mixed into the load.
  • If the driver can’t lift the container due to weight, remove some of the debris to accommodate the weight limits of the truck.

Fees May Vary Based on Location

There are “distance fees” applicable in most cases to cover the dumpster provider’s fuel costs and driving time.

This fee should be included in your initial dumpster quote, but it never hurts to double-check.

If you live in close proximity to the rental company, these fees will generally not apply.

By choosing a dumpster rental company within close proximity of your home or job site, you may be able to reduce or eliminate this fee and save some money on the rental.

Get quotes from at least 2-3 dumpster companies to get the best pricing.

What’s Included in a Quote?

Rental fees are not always all-inclusive.

Quotes will typically include delivery, pickup, and disposal for a certain period of time, usually 7 or 10 days.

fees that are sometimes not included in dumpster rental quotes

Here are some other charges/fees that are not always included in the quoted price:

  • Taxes
  • Additional days
  • Overages
  • Hazardous materials
  • Trip charges
  • Permits

These charges may not apply in every case, for example, you won’t incur a permit fee if one isn’t required.

Which Wastes are Not Allowed?

Depending upon your local laws and regulations pertaining to waste haulers, most rental companies cannot legally haul hazardous chemicals, liquids, flammable/explosive wastes, and other hazardous materials.

household hazardous waste

Here’s a short list of common hazardous household items:

  • Paint (dried paint may be accepted; ask your dumpster provider to be sure)
  • Car fluids (oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, etc.)
  • 55 gallon drums
  • Asbestos debris
  • Herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides
  • Batteries
  • Appliances containing Freon (e.g., refrigerators)

Waste haulers may take some of these hazardous items for an additional fee if you separate them from the rest of the load.

Additional fees apply if any prohibited wastes are discovered during the emptying of the dumpster.

Learn more: What Can and Can't be Put in the Dumpster

When is a Dumpster Permit Required?

dumpster placed in a public street

A permit is typically required when the container is placed on a city street, sidewalk, or any other public right-of-way.

If you plan to have the dumpster placed in your driveway or another privately-owned piece of your property, a permit is generally not required.

It’s your responsibility to obtain the necessary permits, although most dumpster rental companies are glad to help.

Contact your local city government, or visit its website, to get more information.

Obtaining a permit generally requires filling out a short document and paying a nominal fee.

When a “Move Fee” Applies

moving a dumpster

In instances where you need the roll-off container moved to a different location on your property, a “move fee” (similar to a trip fee) may be added to your bill.

This fee varies but it generally about the same cost as a trip charge.

Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for a move fee.

This additional cost will apply in cases where the dumpster needs to be moved due to improperly placing the container in the public right-of-way without properly obtaining a permit from the city.

Remember, it’s ultimately the customer’s responsibility to meet all permitting requirements as the property or business owner.

Dumpster companies will oftentimes help customers in obtaining these permits or at least point you in the right direction.

Damage to Property (Driveway, Curb, Sidewalks, and Yard)

damaged concrete

Dumpster rental companies are usually not responsible for damage to customer’s property, although they may be insured for such damage.

As the customer, it’s best that you inquire about this before you rent the dumpster and/or read the fine print on the rental agreement.

Some rental companies place boards beneath the dumpster to help prevent surface damage while others will do so upon request – always ask!

TIP: If driveway or yard damage is a major concern, opt for a trailer-style dumpster that is on rubber wheels rather than a traditional style dumpster that rests on steel wheels/feet.

No Refunds or Credits for Rain or Snow

rain in dumpster

Rain and snow can saturate the debris, waste, or junk in the dumpster, making it heavier than normal.

This will increase the total weight of the load and could ultimately increase the cost of the rental.

Two cases where rain and snow would impact the cost of the dumpster rental includes:

  1. When the rental fee is based on the total weight of the load rather than a flat-rate fee.
  2. If the weight of the load exceeds the weight allowance and overage charges are added to the bill.

Dumpster rental companies are not responsible for the additional weight resulting from rain or snow saturation.

They have to pay extra dump fees at the landfill for the additional weight and thus, pass these costs onto the customer.

TIP: Place a tarp, plastic, or sheets of plywood over the dumpster during rain or snowstorms to reduce the amount of moisture entering the dumpster and saturating the debris.

Final Thoughts

Renting a roll-off container isn’t a difficult or confusing process, but be sure to follow the rental company’s terms of service to avoid any hiccups along the way.

The tips and information above is a general outline of common rental terms but keep in mind that terms of service vary by service provider.

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