WisconsinLegal Blank

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I use Wisconsin Legal Blank rental Agreement (form 19) and sometimes also use their Nonstandard Rental Provisions (form 984). Are they the best for small Landlords? What's the best way to split up snow removal and land care on a duplex? I usually just put it in both of tenants rental agreement but don't specify specific duties. I've been getting away with that but with a new tenant coming seh asked about specific duties. Long term tenant that's staying does some snow but minimal and that used to work with other tenants.  My other issue I'd like to address is tenants leaving unit very dirty and leaving stuff behind. Any suggestions will be helpful.

For our multiplexes (duplexes and 8-plex) we take care of the landscaping. If it snows, we also take care of snow removal. For our SHRs the tenant is held responsible. This is defined in the rental agreement. Here is an excerpt:

"LANDSCAPING/YARD CARE.  Regular landscaping/yard care (mowing, edging, trimming, fertilizer, weed control) will be provided by _______________________.

For all Tenants:

a.     Tenant agrees to keep yards, walkways, patios and decks clear and to keep premises free of junk and debris. 

b.     Tenant accepts liability for all landscape damage and/or replacement of such, if caused by neglect, abuse or lack of water.

c.     Tenant may plant the beds adjacent to their dwelling to their liking, but only with those plants that are of appropriate size and type for the beds.  All plants brought or caused to be brought to the property by Tenant will be cared for by Tenant. 

d.     Tenant agrees not to cut or prune trees, hedges and shrubs.  This will be Landlord’s responsibility.

e.     Tenant agrees to properly dispose of all plant debris and agrees to not leave such on the property.

f.      Landlord will consider special Tenant requests for planting and removal of plants, shrubbery and trees, but reserves the right to determine the make-up of the landscaping.

For Tenants of single family homes only:

a.     Tenant agrees to mow, water, and keep the grass, lawn, flowers and shrubbery thereon in good order and condition, applying fertilizers and weed retardant as needed.

b.     If there is a failure of Tenant to keep the landscaping in good order and to follow these guidelines, Landlord reserves the right to hire a landscaping service at Tenant’s expense (after a 10-day notice to perform covenant).

c.     Landlord reserves the right to restore the landscaping to its initial condition, as it was at the time of Tenant’s taking occupancy (possession) or at the time of initial restoration if performed during Tenant’s occupancy.  Such restoration will be at Tenant’s expense."

About move-out expectations.... we clarify this when the tenant moves in by giving them a copy of our move-out information in their move-in packet. Later when we know they are moving out, we give them another copy of the move-out information and check in with them during the process. There will always be some tenants who leave the place dirty and/or with stuff they didn't remove. The key is to start with a sufficient security deposit and clear expectations defined in the rental agreement. Then end with doing a move-out walk-through with the tenant and get their signature on a "Return of Possession" form. Charge against the security deposit to remove items left behind and for extra cleaning. Follow the landlord-tenant laws for your jurisdiction. Sometimes tenants leave without notice and don't clearly return possession of the rental unit back to you. In those cases, you must do what is required according to law... it may mean following abandonment procedures and/or storing tenant belongings. Good luck.

@Jim Peret I've alternated between having one duplex tenant be the one responsible for snow removal, to making both tenants equally responsible and let the tenants work out any division of labor.  I prefer the 2nd option because you won't have a tenant complain to you that the other one is too slow with snow removal.  But the first option can work OK with a good tenant.  I would never hire out snow removal for a duplex because in SE WI it would be too expensive relative to the income of just two units; and the costs can vary so much depending on how bad the winter is.  I also use those same forms from WI Legal Blank.  I think they are perfect for small landlords, in fact I use them on the advice of a RE attorney.  The forms are of course drafted by an attorney, and updated to reflect changes in WI law.

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