When owning and operating rental properties, there are numerous tasks and responsibilities that fall on the landlord or tenants, respectively. Sometimes landlords and tenants have different opinions on how these responsibilities should be allocated. One task in particular is the ever-loathed yard maintenance. I can already feel the unforgiving sun on my back and mosquitoes pestering me into madness, but the work has got to be done by somebody, right?
Should this task fall upon the tenants’ back? Well, like most issues regarding the management of rental properties, the answer is complicated. First, we need to establish the type of property that needs yard maintenance. If we are talking an apartment style property, then by all means that task should fall onto the landlord and their maintenance team.
The landscaping and maintenance of an apartment complex’s grounds can add or subtract to the appeal of potential tenants wanting to live on that property. This task is too important to risk letting tenants complete. That is why most apartment complexes have contracted lawn maintenance businesses to make sure their property is always looking its best. Hiring a lawn care company is an investment.
Unruly grass and weeds are not only unsightly, but they can also be a hazard, as they create a welcoming environment for dangerous animals, such as fire ants and snakes. With that hazard in mind, potential tenants would rightfully look elsewhere if the property looked unmanaged.
When No Turns to Maybe…
Properties with multiple units that are meant to look uniform and well managed should not be maintained by the tenants; however, what about singular propertie? Singular properties, like houses or mobile homes, are a different story. A singular home does not need to look uniform with an adjacent home, and the neighborhood does not have a central management system.
However, there maybe a homeowner’s association that could require a residents’ yard to be cut regularly and well groomed. In that case, the owner of the property has a choice to make regarding the allocation of lawn maintenance. If the homeowner’s association will fine the homeowner for not complying with their ordinances, it would seem like the landlord would need to make sure their lawn is up to code. However, if the resident is fined, it may be required that the tenant up-keep the yard.
The landlord also has the option of hiring a lawn care business to take care of the yard and raise the rent of the property to compensate for the cost of the yard services.
When the Argument is Already Over: Read Your Lease
If you are a tenant who thinks your landlord should be responsible for lawn care, regardless of the type of property you are renting, before you approach your landlord, you may need to take a look at your lease. Your argument for who should mow the lawn may be over before it even begins. If your landlord clearly stated in your lease that the renter is to claim responsibility for all yard maintenance, you might as well grab your large sun hat and gardening gloves because you are going to be the one pulling weeds and cutting the grass.
The lease will have the final word on many landlord-tenant disputes, and that includes the issue of lawn care.
Long Story Short
In most cases, it is not practical to expect your tenants to maintain their own lawn. Making sure your property is presentable to future tenants is a responsibility that falls on you, the landlord. At the end of the day, you cannot bank your return on investment in the hopes that your tenants have the same landscaping aspirations as you do, so it is best to handle that initiative yourself. However, that does not mean you cannot incorporate the cost of your lawn service into the price of their rent. That way, in the end, everyone is happy and your property looks pristine, as it should!