“Don&#x27t judge a book by its cover” is a phrase you&#x27ve heard many times, but when it comes to plazas, appearances do make a difference. For potential tenants, few things raise a red flag quite like seeing litter in a car park, or over-filled garbage containers. First impressions are important and can have lasting consequences. While a few wrapping papers drifting in the breeze are unavoidable, unattractive surroundings are likely to be seen as an indicator of underlying problems within the complex. As landlords, we always need to make sure we are seeing the property through the eyes of a tenant.

One garbage box doesn&#x27t fit all

In every plaza there are likely to be a variety of arrangements used by tenants to service their refuse requirements; this is dependent on the type of business. Restaurants, for example, have to ensure waste disposal is done in a way that meets certain health standards in order to remain open. While fast food outlets have similar requirements, they also face particular challenges. This is an industry with a high turnover of low-skilled staff and it is not possible for the owner of the franchise to be in the store at all times. As a result, garbage disposal does not always receive the priority it requires. The training of staff can be a problem when employees are constantly changing, so it&#x27s important the landlord, through the property manager, remains vigilant and makes sure every tenant plays their part in keeping the plaza litter-free. As a couple of the ReDev property managers have noted, the winter months can be the most challenging time because no one wants to be outside in freezing conditions collecting food containers. The disposal of food takeaway boxes is not just a litter problem, it is also an environmental one and could soon become a political issue. The U.K. government is presently considering a tax on  single-use plastics  (often used in food servings). If successful, this is likely to be repeated by other governments. As a landlord, we need to be proactive in our partnerships with tenants when it comes to litter.

Maintaining well-kept properties

If reminders and warnings are not enough, we will, in a worse-case scenario, get the garbage removed and bill the tenant. This rarely happens because most tenants understand a dirty plaza is bad for business, but it is important for everyone to understand there will be no compromise when it comes to a well-kept plaza. As always, the success of the landlord-tenant relationship is based on trust and good communication. In many cases, a landlord can offer assistance on the type of garbage removal service best-suited to the tenant. For most Canadians, recycling has become the norm at home and most of the time it is done without much thought. It should not be any different in the workplace when it comes to disposing of much larger quantities of garbage. That task is much easier in places like Edmonton, that has adopted the commingling system, sometimes known as single-sort recycling, where all materials are separated at a recycling depot.

Innovative waste-storage solutions

Traditionally, most of the garbage is stored at the back of a plaza, but even those areas are starting to get a serious facelift. One of the driving forces has been a Finnish company called  Molok*, that developed semi-underground waste containers.  Molok  is   gaining in popularity and are being used in a number of newly developed plazas, along with existing ones. Both landlords and tenants know cleanliness outside the plaza is just as important as the standards maintained inside each store because it makes a difference to customers. Plazas are an integral part of each community so everyone involved has a stake in their success. While covered malls are facing many challenges, the community plazas which are at the heart of the ReDev Properties business model are still thriving.   That&#x27s because they offer products and services, not available online, that are close-by in attractive surroundings. * ReDev Properties and Molok are separate companies and do not have any past or existing financial arrangements or investments in each other.

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