Who maintains the yard on your rentals?

16 Replies

I have had a rental property in Wheat Ridge for a few years now, and I am about to have a second. For the past few years, I have paid a company to mow the lawn weekly, but their prices for general upkeep (maintaining the flower beds, pulling weeds and trimming hedges are outrageous). My tenants cannot be relied upon to keep the yard looking nice, so I would like to hire somebody to come out and mow weekly, weed the beds, and keep things looking nice on both houses. If their prices are right, I'd probably have them care for my personal home as well. Who do you guys use? I have been looking and looking and looking with zero luck. 

Hey Kellie, do you have a property management company in place or do you manage these properties yourself?

If you manage these yourself, one thing you can do is contact local property management companies and ask them if they would share their lawn upkeep company. You may have to contact a couple companies before they share that information. 

If there are no lawn upkeep companies in your local area at a price point that works for you, there is a potential for a side business. You may be able to hire friends or locals to do this for you to get some extra cash in their pocket, while also saving you tons of money! If you continue to gain more and more properties in that area, you can have an entire side business while making profits and beating the competition. 

This is a great topic folks who rent houses tend not to keep the yard, flower beds, etc. up. I really hit the topic hard to that this must be done right. I go by the house every month if the grass is high I send a text.

I have paid for up keep, now I just make it clear when they are doing the lease the yard must be kept up.

The gutters are never cleaned, so I just do it myself this keeps the water out of the basement, that is a big one!!

@Etienne Martel I manage the properties myself. You definitely suggested some good ideas. I have a short list of property maintenance companies to contact tomorrow, but if that doesn't pan out, I may consider that as a side business. I have been looking casually for years, but am now looking more seriously since I will have more than one rental to deal with and I still have had no luck. Maybe I am just looking in the wrong places. 

@Billy Smith I have tried that approach, but I find that my standards are higher than my tenants. I have been renting primarily to students and young roommates, and they just don't care as much as I do. I'd rather charge them a bit more and know it's getting dealt with.  

@Kellie Alkayam

On my single family homes my tenants are responsible to cut the grass, maintain the yard and snow removal.  It works fairly well.  I accept the fact they will not care for it as well as I would.  I have a predetermined minimum criteria and make sure they are performing a minimal criteria.  I include these items within the lease so there is no doubt regarding the responsibility.

Good Luck.   

@Kellie Alkayam If cold-calling doesn't work out, another option is for you to door-knock locally on properties that you notice has an ideal yard. Ask if they would feel comfortable sharing who their gardener is. (I would make sure to compliment their yard about how great it looks!) 

Regarding the side business: you could even hang up fliers around town to see if anyone would be interested in doing lawn maintenance for compensation!  

Kellie Alkayam

 I am an avid, Gardner, I have high standards myself. I agree to put fertilizers down an all the homes. So, the yard thing is clear to my renters where I stand.

I do find they will not water spend lots of money on  yards during hot summer months. I make sure I have fescue grass to help that issue.

I have some college grads a who do a great job, it is a big corner lot. My other houses have all upped their game. I think that there is a direct correlation to my putting effort and time on yards.

My tenants are responsible for mowing , BUT if the grass gets over 6 inches tall I post the property giving them 3 days to mow the grass . If they dont do it , I send over a lawn care co , and add the bill to the rent . 

Hi Kellie.  Prices for lawn and maintenance guys has gone up over the last decade and the good ones are in short supply.  I use a company called Opa Homes who I learned about from a management company Park Side Realty and Management.  Both are solid, but I know that my little 10 door portfolio doesn't take priority over all the maintenance companies that have 500+ or 1000+ doors.  And when you find cheap lawn and maintenance guys, they'll be gone in a year or two.  The cheap labor never lasts. I'd recommend finding a company that's middle of the road in price, or even a bit more expensive, but they stick around in the market, show up, and get the job done without you having to worry.  So I pay a bit more for Opa Homes, but they get it done and I don't stress.  In short, you get what you pay for.

So many great suggestions in here. Thanks @Etienne Martel . If I can't find somebody via a Google search and phone calls, I will have to explore alternatives.

@Christopher Lawhead , you're absolutely right. In any service industry, you get what you pay for. I would love to work something out with my current lawn guys, but I got the feeling he was trying to price me out of hiring him because mowing is his quick and easy bread and butter work. Anything else takes away from that. 

@Kellie Alkayam I rent to college students and there is 0% chance they're going to maintain the yard. So several years ago I started dividing the deposit on the property to 1/2 refundable and 1/2 non-refundable. 

I use the 1/2 non-refundable portion to pay for the lawn care. This system has worked well because the tenants see the value on why I'm doing it AND it doesn't affect the monthly cost of their rent. Not sure it will work with non-students, but it might be worth a shot.

Also, would highly recommend using the Thumbtack app for finding lawn companies. We've had great success with that.

@Will Gaston , interesting idea, but do you charge a deposit of more than the "standard" amount equal to a month's rent? If not, does dedicating half of the deposit to yard maintenance (and maybe other continuing costs) leave you too little to cover cleaning and damages when the tenants move out?

We just have a few rentals. The renters are responsible for mowing and snow removal. we do any hedge trimming ourselves. I have a special affection for hedges and want it done right. Like others, if we see the grass up too high, we text the renters. 

@Bob H. No I still do just do one month's rent. Sometimes it leaves me short, but more often than not it doesn't and across 30+ properties it makes a big difference. It's saved me probably 30k/year for the last 3 or 4 years.

We write in our leases that the tenant is responsible for yard maintenance and snow removal. It’s worked great and in my experience leads to a tenant who shows some pride in renting my houses.