Tenant demanding grass for yard

83 Replies

I've got a tenant in a single family residence who has been extremely aggressive and demanding since moving into the home a few months ago. We re-did the house and it's in great condition- new appliances, new paint, new bathroom, working AC and plumbing etc. Very clean as well. The fenced in backyard had sparse grass when they saw the property and signed the lease. Lawn care is tenant responsibility under our lease terms. They have kids and 2 huge dogs and she's absolutely furious that the yard is muddy most of the time (lots of rain in Oklahoma recently). She is saying that they pay for the yard and that it's uninhabitable and that we are discriminating against them by telling them we won't lay sod. (They looked up ALL of our other single family homes and are saying that since those yards are better, that we are mistreating them). Here's what I found under OK Landlord tenant law and wanting to make sure that I'm reading correctly that I'm not REQUIRED to give them grass;

§118. Duties of landlord and tenant A. A landlord shall at all times during the tenancy: 

1. Except in the case of a single-family residence, keep all common areas of his building, grounds, facilities and appurtenances in a clean, safe and sanitary condition;

Would love some input here! We don't want to be cheap landlords or anything (the house is in perfect condition on the inside), but I also don't want to be bullied into giving them something I'm not required to. "Give them an inch and they ask for a mile...."

Thanks for any advice! I'd also love ANY input on effective communication with difficult tenants. Don't want someone bashing in walls out of anger!! 

No idea the laws in your area, however can you have the lawn area tilled and then seed it. It would be on the tenant at that point to water it, and keep their children and dogs off, however they will have a yard after a few weeks.

That's going to be a recipe for disaster, they're going to track all that mud inside. However, by no means do you have to lay sod... but I'd consider doing something so they don't have a mudpit to track into the house.

"discriminating against them by telling them we won't lay sod"

That's funny. When I worked retail decades ago I was called a "terrorist" because we wouldn't return opened software. So we can safely say she has never been "discriminated" against in her life.

I love when people use big scary words to voice their displeasure with an uncomfortable situation. :)

So they saw the yard and its current layout and condition when they signed the lease, correct?

Are there any real concerns about safety? Doubt it...

Are there any concerns that water issue will damage your unit in any way? If there are, then I would address them..if this is a real concern for the health of your property, then fix the real issue...drainage, foundation...... damaging the interior due to mud/dirt etc....then fix it....if its 99% cosmetic, then hell no

Otherwise the tenant can go pound sand......they rented it "as is" with full disclosure and acceptance of the property...

Don't like it?..... agree to let them out of the lease, no strings attached

You can do this in a calm and professional way.....this is business, not personal.

Landlords cant function out of fear that a tenant will intentionally damage the unit.... that is a risk, but you cant be held hostage by that fear.

Professionally state that the tenant signed the lease with the unti "as is".....and if they feel its uninhabitable, you will gladly let them out of the lease, no strings attached and the deposit will be refunded in full if the unit is returned in move in condition

DO NOT GIVE INTO THIS DEMAND....you will regret it

demand

dəˈmand/

noun


  1. an insistent and peremptory request, made as if by right.

Nope. No right of tenant. "The property is in the same condition in which you applied for tenancy and moved in. If you believe it is uninhabitable I would recommend you stop living in the back yard and start living in the house."

My response is often heavily influence on how the tenant approaches me about it too....

"Hey we are having issue with water drainage and mud in the back yard.....we cant even really use it most of the time......is there a way you can fix that? sod.... laying seed....drainage pipes etc ?"

vs

" you are discriminating against us and we demand you lay sod"..... drop dead....get aggressive with me right off the bat and my desire to work with you just left the building....which will be followed by you.....

Thank you all for the fast responses. I totally agree that the way in which she asks makes me want to dig my heels in more. I personally love having good relationships with tenants and renting to them a home to live in that they enjoy. This lady is a thorn in my side!! I also wanted to ask her if they were camping in the backyard! I do admit that I'm concerned about mud etc in the house (thank goodness there is no carpet!). Ironically we gave a peace offering to buy a bag of seed and some bags of sand for them to use and she didn't even acknowledge the offer. Based on the law that I posted from the OKlahoma Landlord Tenant Act in my first post, I'm hoping that means we are okay?? 

@Jenny Adel Your being too timid . You are allowing the tenants to walk all over you I’m afraid .try to be more assertive and tell the tenant you are not responsible and that you offered grass but they refused . They are going to be a problem in the future so you might as well lay the law down now .
Originally posted by @Steve B. :
@Jenny Adel you just said it’s an SFR and the first line of the regulation yOU QUOTED spECIFICALLY excluded SFR’s. Did you get confused?

 I don't think so! Just making sure I was correct in my reading that we don't HAVE to provide upkeep for their surroundings b/c it's not a multifamily! (of which we don't have any...boo) 

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :
@Jenny Adel

Your being too timid . You are allowing the tenants to walk all over you I’m afraid .try to be more assertive and tell the tenant you are not responsible and that you offered grass but they refused . They are going to be a problem in the future so you might as well lay the law down now .

 That's the plan for now I think! We offered a concession and if they don't take it then that's on them. If there is one more major issue we will part ways as peaceably as possible. I think grass would be good for the yard, but we'll wait until they move out so we don't cave to their bullying. (She literally said they might plant their own sod and then roll it up and take it with them when they move...umm....have fun with that...)

Originally posted by @Jenny Adel :

(She literally said they might plant their own sod and then roll it up and take it with them when they move...umm....have fun with that...)

You're probably going to see something like that in the next few years of your landlording experiences. In the first apartment I renovated for sale, the departing tenant had stripped out the flush valve of the toilet in the apartment. The logic seems to have been that they replaced the flush valve when it broke without calling the landlord, and so they took the flush valve with them when they left (maybe as a souvenir).

Large dogs + sod = No sod.   I'd send her a letter stating that there was grass, albeit not great, but grass, when they took possession, and now it's a muddy mess. Per their lease, they are responsible for the lawn, and if not rectified, they will be held responsible and damage will be deducted from their deposit. 

Demanding tenants get nowhere.

@Jim K. That’s great lol tenants never seem to grasp the concept that more involved repairs require telling the landlord ...and The simple things that are cheap and easy are their responsibility. I had tenants call me up complaining that there is a mouse in the house ! I’m like “ okay .. so what. Get a mouse trap “ and In theIr mInd , they think that I need to drop everythIng , rush over their in a hazmat suit and do extermination duties on a Sunday night lol I ended up going to Home Depot and paying $2.27 for a pack of 4) traps and giving it to them . I swear These people would have you wipe their butt if they thought you would do it for them .

I agree with @Ned J. The way a tenant (or anyone in general) asks for something dictates how I would respond. You did the right thing by offering seed, but apparently that wasn't good enough. I wouldn't worry a single bit about a discrimination lawsuit...I bet the judge would laugh at them since they're suing over grass/sod. Since you offered the seed and they didn't respond, I would just go lay the seed/straw myself and let them know they need to keep the dogs/kids off it for a while and it needs to be watered daily. The grass will start to grow in a week or so and in less than a month she'll have a useable grassy lawn. I also would not renew her lease. 

However, I would like to see her lay the sod and then take it with her when she moves. lol

Are they millennials by any chance.

I would give them a bag of seed and tell them to have at it. With kids and 2 dogs the likely hood of grass surviving may be slim.

Tell them you will release them from the lease and see what they say.

If you keep these tenant you will need to break them down and teach them that they have no authority to make demands, you are in control, you will not comply with requests and if they don't like it they are welcome to leave or do what ever else comes to mind. I like my tenants to grasp the concept  (all on M2M) that I am in control and if they are nice, polite and respectful I will reciprocate. I never keep demamding tennats that I can not retrain. 

Unfortunately in my jurisdiction this usually requires a creative solution other than non renewing or eviction. Tenants that do not conform to my standards quickly realise they have rented from the wrong landlord. It never turns out well for them.

"Good Lord."...……..No...…Good Landlord.

"I guess I know what you'd say if I asked you what is best in life... :)"

Yep, fairly simple answer. to begin.....Properly trained tenants. Something far to many landlords neglect in their responsibilities. Usually results in inherited tennats being terminated.

@Jenny Adel I used to own a landscaping company. I’m from PA and we’re getting the same type of rain I feel like we’re Seattle now. Even if you try to grow grass in this it’s going to wash away. Sod is so expensive even for the material then the labor is thousands. Cheapest way to do it in the rain is to put seed down with erosion mat over it. But maybe just say “o I checked with a landscaper and they said it won’t grow in this rain”.