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Environmental Health

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Online Payment for Refuse Liens

Request for Demand/Payoff



San Francisco Health Code:

Article 6 Garbage & Refuse

Article 6 Rules & Regs (pdf)

Solid Waste Programs

Refuse Liens

Mandatory Refuse Service

Local Enforcement Agency (LEA)

Refuse Collection Vehicles

Related Programs

Hazardous Materials

Hazardous Waste

California Agencies


Program Contact

Michelle Dela Cruz
Sr. Env. Health Inspector

Refuse Liens Program

Persuant to article 6, section 291.1 of the San Francisco Health Code, the owner of any dwelling or commercial property shall subscribe to and pay for adequate refuse collection service rendered to such dwelling or commercial property by a collector and shall provide at a location accessible to the collector for an adequate container or containers for deposit of refuse of such capacity as the Director of Public Works may prescribe. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the City paying all costs for the services rendered and placing a lien on the real property with additional recording fee, administrative, and interest charges.


Refuse Lien Frequently Asked Questions


How do I make a refuse lien payment?

1. Pay online with any major credit or debit card or using electronic checks or ACH:

2. Pay by check or money order (payable to "S.F. Health Department") via U.S. Mail to:

Solid Waste Program
Attn: Refuse Lien Program
49 South Van Ness Ave., Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94103

Please include either the bottom portion of the notice with your payment or include the block/lot # and invoice # on the payment.



Payment may not be made by phone.

Partial payments are not accepted.


What is a refuse lien?

A lien is a legal claim or a "hold" on real property, whether personal or real property, making it collateral against monies or services owed to another person or entity. In this case, a lien is recorded against the property due to an unpaid or delinquent garbage bill for service that is rendered by the garbage company. The lien amount consists of the original garbage bill amount, administrative fee set by the Controller's Office, and the recording fee charged by the Assessor Recorder's Office. An interest of 1.5% is compounded monthly from the date of the recordation until the lien is paid.


Why was a refuse lien recorded against my property?

When a bill for garbage service is unpaid or becomes delinquent (past due), per the S.F. Health Code, Article 6, Section 291.7, the S.F. Health Department is required to make a payment to the garbage company for the past due service period on behalf of the account holder. This ensures that there will be no disruption with your garbage service. The Department of Public Health then places a lien on the property to recover the payment and any associated cost from the property owner.


How can I avoid having a lien recorded against my property?

If you received a Notice of a Recorded Refuse (Garbage) Lien from the S.F. Health Department, a lien has already been recorded against the property. To avoid future refuse liens from being recorded against your property, be sure to make timely payments on your garbage service bills to Recology.


Who should I contact if I have any questions or disputes regarding my garbage service or garbage service payments?

You must contact Recology at (415) 330-1300.


I recently made a payment to the garbage company, why did I still get a lien?

If Recology receives a payment AFTER the due date, it is considered late. A late payment is credited towards a future or current service period. A late garbage bill payment cannot be applied to a past due period. If payment is not made by the due date, the S.F. Health Department makes the payment on behalf of the account holder to the garbage company and a lien is placed on the property in which case the delinquent amount plus an administrative and recording fee will be owed to the Department of Public Health. An interest of 1.5% is compounded monthly from the date of the recordation until the lien is paid.


I am a property owner, why was a lien placed on my property for my tenant's delinquent garbage payment?

The property owner is held responsible for any delinquent garbage service payments on the property (Per S.F. Health Code, Article 6, Section 291.7).


When is a refuse lien released?

Lien releases are processed on a monthly basis at the end of the month. A release is scheduled only after payment has been made to the S.F. Health Department.


What happens if I don't pay the refuse lien?

If the lien is not paid, interest will accrue at a rate of 1.5% monthly until the end of the fiscal year, June 30. At the end of the fiscal year, the lien will be released and automatically transferred over to the property tax and will appear on your property tax bill as a special assessment (SA-70) for residential or apartment or (SA-71) for commercial.


How do I request a demand for a lien payoff?

Go to NextRequest and enter the following information in the description box:

  • Property address
  • Parcel (block/lot) information
  • Title or escrow company name and address
  • Escrow number
  • Escrow officer's name, phone #, e-mail, and fax #

Be sure to select "Public Health: Demand for Refuse lien/Payoff" in the "Seclect a Department" dropdown menu.

Per the Sunshine Ordinance, allow 10 calendar days for processing. If the due date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then the demand will be processed the following Monday. If the due date falls on a federal holiday, then the demand will be processed the next business day. No rush and no verbal demands granted.


How do I get information regarding past refuse liens?

If you are requesting information that is older than 5 years from the current date, visit the Assessor-Recorder office at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 190 to research past refuse liens. If requesting information within 5 years from the current date, you may submit a records request through NextRequest.


Have further questions?

You may also contact our office at (415) 252-3872. We are closed on City observed, legal holidays.




Making a Complaint

  For complaints about illegal dumping or garbage, call or visit 311.

311 City Customer Service Agency - Service 24x7

San Francisco Department of Public Health Environmental Health Branch