Tenants says it's the landlord's responsibility to cut the grass

19 Replies

Tenant living in SFR refuses to cut grass. First she told me it was my responsibility to buy her a lawn mower to cut the grass. I went there today for the first time in months and the grass is knee deep. I'm worried I'm going to get a violation from the city soon.

I asked the tenant again to please cut the grass and now she tells me it's my responsibility as the landlord to send a maintenance company to cut the grass. Unfortunately there is nothing in the lease which specifies the tenant needs to cut the grass. I used the BP standard lease in file place which unfortunately doesn't say anything about yard maintenance and I have definitely learnt for next time!

I see my only option as sending her a letter explaining she must maintain the house and yard and hope she complies. If anyone knows a better way, please tell me.

Originally posted by @Nat C. :

Tenant living in SFR refuses to cut grass. First she told me it was my responsibility to buy her a lawn mower to cut the grass. I went there today for the first time in months and the grass is knee deep. I'm worried I'm going to get a violation from the city soon.

I asked the tenant again to please cut the grass and now she tells me it's my responsibility as the landlord to send a maintenance company to cut the grass. Unfortunately there is nothing in the lease which specifies the tenant needs to cut the grass. I used the BP standard lease in file place which unfortunately doesn't say anything about yard maintenance and I have definitely learnt for next time!

I see my only option as sending her a letter explaining she must maintain the house and yard and hope she complies. If anyone knows a better way, please tell me.

Important lesson! What ever contract / lease / other document you use, run it by your attorney to make sure (s)he can defend it in court. "One size fits all" never does. 

If they are not obligated by the lease you supplied to cut the grass then it is your responsibility.  Do not try to strong arm them into doing it.  Think of it as a learning moment.  All of my rental agreements for SFRs say tenant is responsible for yard maintenance.  If your lease has a clause saying it is their responsibility to maintain the yard and they refuse then evict them.  The person who drafted or supplied a contract has the ambiguities in it interpreted to their disadvantage.  When you draft it you have the duty to make it say what you mean.

Originally posted by @Lisa Ryan :

I think you're screwed on this one for the remainder of the lease.

From the link below, which is specific to Florida -

"Unless the lease states otherwise, all lawn and landscaping maintenance is the landlord's duty."

http://www.evict.com/?page=legnew1005

 Thanks for finding this Lisa. Well at least this clarifies things now. It's a good lesson for the future.

Originally posted by @Jerry W. :

If they are not obligated by the lease you supplied to cut the grass then it is your responsibility.  Do not try to strong arm them into doing it.  Think of it as a learning moment.  All of my rental agreements for SFRs say tenant is responsible for yard maintenance.  If your lease has a clause saying it is their responsibility to maintain the yard and they refuse then evict them.  The person who drafted or supplied a contract has the ambiguities in it interpreted to their disadvantage.  When you draft it you have the duty to make it say what you mean.

 Indeed Jerry. Time to find a lawn mowing man.

I believe it is best to cut your losses and maintain the yard or hire a third party to take care of the clean up. This could be as simply as 3 hours a week/$15hr from a craigslist post that could end up being a person that you may want to bring on part time depending on how much of an inventory you have.

Wish you the best! 

I don't think attempting to bill the tenant for the service is a good idea and doubt it would stand up in court. I imagine the lease would have to explicitly say something like "the Landlord will provide professional lawn maintenance service, costing between $X and $Y per month, and the full amount is to be back-billed to the tenant. The Landlord will provide bills of the services by the 15th of the month and the full amount is payable the subsequent 1st".

Originally posted by @Carlos Enriquez :

Would you be able to bill her for the services?  She may be correct that your are responsible to cut the grass, but who will pay for it?  Just reaching here!

 I like your attitude Carlos but according to the link provided by Lisa, unless otherwise stated in the lease, the landlord is responsible. I think that means I'm responsible for paying too! Also there is no way this tenant would ever pay if I billed her. I'm personally surprised every month when she pays the rent.

You seem to have a lot of trouble with people (tenants, contractors, property managers) not doing what you expect them to. Perhaps there is a larger issue here that you should examine.

Originally posted by @Sylvia B. :

You seem to have a lot of trouble with people (tenants, contractors, property managers) not doing what you expect them to. Perhaps there is a larger issue here that you should examine.

 Not really. I think I am blessed with the world's best tenant's. All of my tenants in the USA are amazing and have been with me for years with the exception of 1. I do not like or trust property managers. In 8 years I've only had two who were excellent, so I no longer use PM's. I have a constant problem with contractors. There are only a small handful I use regularly and trust.

Thanks for keeping up with my posts!

Lesson learned. I have always worked with my tenants to maintain the yard by providing a lawn mower.  However, even if you provide the mower it is your responsibility to service the equipment for the tenant or they will damage your machine.  I suggest hiring an insured landscape crew. The benefit you will gain by hiring a crew to cut the lawn, trim the shrubs is another set of eyes watching your investment to catch any other property negelect or illegal activity by your tenants.  

Originally posted by @Sylvia B. :

You seem to have a lot of trouble with people (tenants, contractors, property managers) not doing what you expect them to. Perhaps there is a larger issue here that you should examine.

 I have to concur with this. At the risk of being blunt, I believe that some of the issues could have been prevented with better foresight and/or screening, both for tenants and contractors. I certainly understand there is a learning curve, like the issue contained in this thread, so I don't mean to bash you in any way, but based on your reply to the post above, it seems you believe that there was nothing you could do to prevent those issues. I would encourage you to be a little more introspective and make sure you dot your i's and cross your t's moving forward. Just my two cents. Best of luck to you either way.

One point to the tenant  is to remind her that the landscape crew will enter without notice. The  tenant  needs to be reminded also to keep chairs ect off the lawn as  a lawn service will not move them (or if they will I don't want them to put this in my cost).    This usually goes ok but I sometimes you  need to point it out again.

Just keep track of the cost to mow the lawn and build it into the next rental increase. This way your loss is only in the one year and you learned from your mistake in the lease.

My lease says that if they don't do it I can have it done and charge them for it as "added rent". Nobody has challenged it in court so I don't know for sure how enforceable it is.

If the lease do not say it, then it falls back on the landlord...HOWEVER....here's what I would do to get them consider doing the right thing: 

Tell my tenant that the extra cost due to their unwillingness to upkeep the property will increase your operational cost and that will translate to increase in rent come lease renewal. 

In the mean time, keep track of the cost and roll it into the 'increase' when they renew the lease, and issue a lease addendum at renewal to include tenant's responsibility related to lawncare. 

If a landlord wants a tenant to cut grass, not only should the lease so state, but also the landlord needs to provide a lawnmower that actually works well and a place to store it out of the weather, along with any other landscape tools the tenant will need.  One of my pet peeves is lawn mowers that won't start no matter how many times you pull the cord, or push mowers (which I generally prefer) too dull to cut the grass.