Shared lawn care question - one tenant just moved out.

5 Replies

Hi everyone,

Lawn care question about a duplex:

*note: lawn care and snow removal is in both leases

Care was split, tenant A tool care of back and side yard, tenant B took care of front (a hill).

Tenant A has lived there for 30 years. This long term tenant started off like a dream, but recently has been very demanding. She is older and lives with her son, and they are now refusing to take care of the front lawn because Tenant B just moved out. They also will not pay for lawn care service to cut it.

Lawn care is in both leases, but if one tenant moves out, can we make the current tenant take care of everything? Or do we have to do the other half/cover the cost of a lawn service until a new tenant moves in?

IMO I would say that your tenant is right to not want to take care of the whole yard. Just because the other tenant moved this should not mean that their work load increases. I venture to say you will need to cover it until you get a new tenant.

In the future you might want to write in specific areas of the yard that each tenant is responsible for.

@Lacee Beitler I also agree that it is not right or fair to make the remaining tenant take care of the lawn, given that it is shared.  I am not a fan of having tenants take care of lawn  (and snow removal) for a duplex, as each tenant is affected by the others actions or lack of actions.  

Personally, I would take this opportunity to take over the lawn and snow removal care, and increase the rent to cover the expense of having someone do this.  You might be out a few bucks until the remaining tenants lease expires and you can raise their rent, but it will make things easier in the future.  

Alternatively, you could offer the remaining tenant a discount on their rent to take care of the entire yard and snow removal, but only if you know they will regularly do it.

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@Lacee Beitler I agree with @Mike Wood .  Plus, there's a liability problem with having tenants required to do the yard work (with a hill) and snow removal (ice, putting back out, falling down...yikes!).  What if they get hurt while doing it?

I'd take it over and pay someone to do the old tenant's stuff at least until the continuing tenant's lease is up.  I guess you could still have the continuing tenant keep doing their old portion of the yard care.  At least they don't have snow now (hopefully) and the side and backyard don't have a hill, I hope.  But, if she's old and cantakerous and her son is possibly argumentative, too, I'd be tempted to take that responsibility away from them now, and put it in writing.

And raise both rents accordingly, as soon as possible.  And then, if anybody gets hurt doing stuff, at least it won't be in your contract that you were requiring them to do it.  That's kind of scary.

I have a 3-unit with shared areas. I live in 1 unit right now so do all the yard, but I am going to bring a service in as soon as I leave. I would never expect my tenants to get along well enough to share the burden and they are far less likely to water the grass in summer if it means it will make the mow it more often!

I would also agree that hiring out the lawn/garden care and raising the rents is always the best option. Once completed this will also send a message to your complaining tenant that might hit home. This is also an opportunity to increase your cash flow by raising rents slightly higher than the new maintiance costs.