Tenant Killed the Lawn - Options?

10 Replies

BP Friends,

I was hoping you all could provide some guidance. I drove by my property a week ago and the front and side yard grass is dead. We have had a couple very warm months in Southern California and my suspicion is that the tenant turned the irrigation off. I contacted him a week ago and let him know I saw the dead grass and that the situation needs to be remedied. A condition of the lease is for the tenant to maintain and irrigate the grass and plants on the property or I hirer a gardner at cost to the tenant. I contacted him after I saw the damage and he responded generally positive. He told me that he is hiring a gardener. I plan to meet him this weekend at the rental to go over the options. My Question: What are my options?

A gardener is nice but the grass needs to be replaced. Also, I am hesitant to let him contract with a gardener if he did not take care of the yard in the first place. He has been a fine tenant to date, and other than this issue, I would like him to keep renting to him. However, can I fix the grass and force him to pay? Should I give him the option to fix it first and in a month if its not fixed give notice for him to move out? I hesitate to take a portion of his security deposit now to fix the damage because then I'm chipping away at any leverage I have when he moves out. Thanks for any input. If you need any further information to assess, please let me know. 

Account Closed Do you have automatic timers on the landscaping? If not install some. The other option would be to raise the rent to cover a gardner, and that way you'll make sure it gets taken care of. 

We have had some very hot days for southern California, and it only takes a few of them to dry out the grass. However; with some water it's quite possible it will come back. I lived in northern California (the actual nor cal, not the bay area) where in summers it got up to 115 and was HOT. There's been times when I've seen grass look dead, and with a little watering, it came back.

Account Closed .

Don't fret yet. Some regions leave grass dead/covered by snow, etc for months, then just fertilizer and water for a few weeks, and voila!

I would hire the gardner myself, and charge them, if it gets too bad... If you can't rely on them, I wouldn't rely on them to get someone, or that person..

Actually, it says do NOT put fertilizer on a weak plant, but do put water :)

See if you can work with your tenant to have them water and restore, or let them know that it will be $1k+ (whatever it is) to re-sod, so them paying for your gardener for $xx/mo as agreed to in the lease, will  end up saving them a LOT of money.. Or...?

We actually allow our lawns to go brown during the summer months. They green up quickly after some rain. Some tenants prefer to water the lawn at their expense. You might consider more drought resistant varieties of grass too. Shrubs and trees, however, are a different matter and require more care.

If the tenant is paying for the water, I can see why he did not water the lawn. You should put a automatic sprinkler if you want the grass water.


Joe Gore

Xeriscape landscaping does have it's advantages.

I know little about California, but here in the midwest grass goes completely dormant and looks dead during the winter months, and again if we have very hot dry weather in the summer. We tend to have large lawns here, and many people just let it go brown rather than irrigate, but it always comes back!

Good Luck!

We are also in a serious drought out here in California, not sure of the regulations where your rental is in SoCal but I know up here in NorCal certain counties are requiring a minimum 20% reduction in water usage or fines could be assessed. The drought is not going away anytime soon so might want to rethink the grass option and possibly replace (if you were thinking of replacing the grass anyways) with a more drought tolerant landscape option.

Thank you @Chris Vail  @Edith TenBroek  @Tom Reynolds  @Marcia Maynard  @Karen Margrave  and @J. Martin  for your input. Hopefully the grass, or at least the majority of it, is dormant. I'm going to let the tenant know they have a month to get the lawn back to its original condition. If it can not be saved, the Xeriscape option is a great idea. We do have the water reduction requirements down here as well, I will definitely look into the limits and current property usage.

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