Providing Lawncare to Tenants in a SFR

56 Replies

Hello BP community! I was wondering what other people's experiences and thoughts were on providing yard maintenance to the tenants of a SFR.

Right now the tenant is responsible for lawn care; I was considering providing that service for the tenant. I am not sure if this would make the home more attractive to a potential renter since that is one less thing they have to worry about.

I have a quote of $110 monthly during the grass cutting season and $55 a month during the winter season. Service includes mowing, trimming, blowing, bushes and shrubs as well as maintaining the flower beds. I was considering raising the rent by $50 a month but I am not sure that this service is really even necessary. I generally do not have an issue keeping the house rented so I am not sure if the extra reduction in cash flow is worth it. The only benefit I can see is that it may reduce vacancy rate (which is very low) and I will have peace of mind knowing that the yard is being maintained.

Thanks for your thoughts and opinions.

Paul

You can give the tenant the option? However it will probably be done better by a pro. I have lucked out twice and had tenants that ran a gardening service on the side and wanted to do it themselves. Those were two sad days when they moved out. The property never looked so good.

We use to give our {student} SFR tenants the option of lawn mowing and snow shovelling, but no longer do this as they would opt to take on the task themselves; discover it was work; and, without exception, eventually cease to keep up with it.

If you were renting a SFR to a family, it should/could be viable to give them the option.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

I don't give the tenants the option. I just put the cost of the gardener in the rent.

I used to give them the option, and they rarely kept it looking nice for long.

Yes @Mark Del Grosso I was considering giving them the option of the service when I renew the lease, or if they move out and I get a new tenant. The family that lives there now does it, because the lease stipulates they are responsible for lawn care. The current tenant maintains the property but I have have had tenants in the past that were a bit lazy. A good friend of mine lives across the street from the property and is quick to send me a picture from his phone when the grass gets too long. 

Do you provide this for your tenants? How has this paid off or not paid off for you?

Paul

@ Roy N.

Thanks I had never offered it and I have had mixed results with the tenant keeping up with the lawn care. Did you find that the added service of providing the service reduced vacancy rates or was your reasoning simply to protect your investment?

Paul

Thank You for your reply @Michelle L how much of the gardener cost do you pass on to the tenant? Have you noticed a stronger draw to your property since you have implemented this plan?

Paul

I charge the entire cost to the tenant. People seem to like not having to deal with the landscaping. If they balk at the rent amount being higher than other places, I explain that this is because the landscaping is included and they don't have to worry about it. Works great for me.

I too am fed up with my SFRs and lawn mowing . Next summer we are instituting a nice yard program. basically, if I see a yard I do not like, I send someone to take care of it and charge the tenant. It will be an amendment to everyone's lease at the first of the year.

Originally posted by @Paul Schuw:
@ Roy N.

Thanks I had never offered it and I have had mixed results with the tenant keeping up with the lawn care. Did you find that the added service of providing the service reduced vacancy rates or was your reasoning simply to protect your investment?

Paul

 A little of both.  In our case, the students seem to think they are a little entitled - after all Mom and Dad did everything for them before and most (but not all) are afraid of physical labour.

Ensuring the lawn was mowed, kept bugs and mice away from the house and ensuring the snow was shovelled kept tenants from bouncing their cars off the siding as they tried to enter/exit the drive without having to shovel.

We just baked it into the rent ... it was easier for all involved.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

@Arlan Potter   That may be difficult for me since I am often times out of the country so that particular method might not work in my case.

Would you specify the expected standards in the amendment? I would think this could be a problem with people complaining that it was raining on the weekends and they could not mow and they have to work during the week blah blah blah. 

Do you have an idea (list) of what standards you would enforce assuming there are not already certain city or HOA ordinances they must abide by.

Paul

Originally posted by @Roy N.  

We just baked it into the rent ... it was easier for all involved.

How much do you pass on to the tenants then? 

Paul

Originally posted by @Paul Schuw:

Originally posted by @Roy N. 

We just baked it into the rent ... it was easier for all involved.

How much do you pass on to the tenants then? 

Paul

 I cannot tell you explicitly, as it is lumped into our operating costs these days.  Ultimately all of it is funded by the tenants, but I think we raised rent by $40-$50 / month when we did roll it in.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

Hi,

On my rentals I take care of the lawn service. It would be nice if I can trust my tenants to do it for me, but if they don't do it on Time or very well, the HOA in the neighborhood will be the first ones to congratulate me with a $25-$35 fine. Sure in my contracts, the tenant will be responsible for any of these fees, but its just another thing that may make the tenant unhappy with their landlord (even though its their fault).

As far as bushes, roses and things like that.  I usually just cut all that non-sense out when I do the rehab on the houses.  The yards are presentable, but I do not have to pay the extra costs to get these taken care of each month.  I suggest you use the same lawn guy if you can, if your rentals are close to the same area.  My guy goes out to all of my properties 2 times a month, $25 a pop.  So $50 a month for yard upkeep per house.  I take that in to account when I set the rent for my Tenants, and they never complain that the rent is $50 higher than next door.  

I hope this helps.

Leon

@Paul S.   I think @Leon O. has a good idea to use the same guy for all your rentals. 

@Mike Roman  Unfortunately my rentals are in different states.

@Account Closed  

 you are in the area I need to incorporate the law service; want to take care of that for me? :-)

Originally posted by @Paul Schuw:

@Arlan Potter   That may be difficult for me since I am often times out of the country so that particular method might not work in my case.

Would you specify the expected standards in the amendment? I would think this could be a problem with people complaining that it was raining on the weekends and they could not mow and they have to work during the week blah blah blah. 

Do you have an idea (list) of what standards you would enforce assuming there are not already certain city or HOA ordinances they must abide by.

Paul

Require the tenant to send you a photo every week. When I notice a tenant has neglected the landscape, they get a reminder from me and a request to show me that it was done with a photo. 

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak:

Require the tenant to send you a photo every week. When I notice a tenant has neglected the landscape, they get a reminder from me and a request to show me that it was done with a photo. 

 Ok Steve, I'll bite ... do you ask for a specific shot (I would like a wide angle view along the east side of the house which takes in the rhododendron and the backside of the garage ... at dawn)?

Otherwise I could see my {student} tenants mowing only a 10x10 patch of lawn and sending the photo.  {It is amazing how ingenious the can be.}

Judging by my neighbourhood, a better strategy might be to ask the neighbour to send you a photo ;-)

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

@Roy N.  if the tenant wants to be a wise a$$ when they already know I have expressed displeasure at them ...

Luckily for me my tenants know to show better proof than a narrow patch that was freshly mowed; they know I might visit again anyway. 

@Steve Babiak  I think my property manager could handle this which he does and I know he has no issue knocking on the door and reminding the tenant that they are responsible for this. I guess I am really more concerned with making this a more attractive property for someone to rent. Also my old neighbors have no problems sending me a picture if the grass is long but I think that is not a normal occurrence. 

@Dawn Anastasi  I think those prices are pretty fair. I am going to shop around a bit and see what different rates I can get.

Thanks,

Paul

@Roy N.  that is almost funny that they would mow a 10X10 patch or use photoshop to try and pull one over. Some people will do more work to try and get over when they could just get out and mow the grass and be done with it.

Originally posted by @Paul Schuw:

@Roy N. that is almost funny that they would mow a 10X10 patch or use photoshop to try and pull one over. Some people will do more work to try and get over when they could just get out and mow the grass and be done with it.

 Paul,

I'm guessing you do not rent to students?  I have watched a student tenant begrudgingly pickup a snow shovels (which we provided) because his car could not push its way through the 8" of fresh snow in the drive.  He then proceeded to cut a swath the width of his car, all the while throwing the snow behind his roommates car.   He wasn't being malevolent, he was only thinking about his immediate need and trying to do the least amount of shovelling possible.

Earlier this summer, I just happened to be passing by one of our student houses when I noticed the neighbour from across the street, who is in her mid 70s, pushing their garbage dolly to the curb.  I immediately stopped to relieve her of the task only to learn that she had been putting out my tenants garbage for six weeks because they would let if overflow, which would draw the skunks and raccoons into the neighbourhood.  When spoke to the tenants about the matter, they were aware the elderly lady from across the street was putting out their trash - and, worse, didn't seemed bothered by it.  We sent them shaming letter, along with a bill for $200 which we paid to the neighbour.

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126