NEW Landlords and NEW Duplex Owners

13 Replies

Hey guys we are crazy nervous but very excited about starting our path down financial freedom.  We are prepared to do the work needed.  We just recently purchase two older duplexes.  They are going to require some work but are at 100% occupancy.  I have a few questions.  The tenants are responsible for handling all utilities except garbage (required by our city).

  • 1.  We are from Minnesota so there will be snow to deal with.  Is this something that we should be required to pay for each month?
  • 2. Same question as above for lawn maintenance.  We are currently paying someone to mow the lawns.
  • 3. One of the units has an old car and some junk that is owned by one of the tenants.  We received a letter to have it cleaned up.  My plan was to send a letter requesting them to clean it.  I'm guessing they won't.  I will go clean but is there a protocol when dealing with this situation?  Should I send a bill for the clean up?  Are we dealing with any issues with their property?
  • Thanks for any advise.  Like I said this is a new adventure for us.  Excited to get plugged into this community!!!  

@Jeffrey V Andersen It's best if these items are detailed in your lease.  I realize you did not write the lease and so you have no control over it, but you are now seeing how decisions in your lease impact you and the tenants during the lease.  A few general items.  The landlord is considered responsible for yard work both snow & lawn unless otherwise stated in the lease and the tenant is compensated by the landlord.  The compensation is required by MN statue 504B.  I recommend you read the entire statue online at

For the junk car, the best is if it's in the lease, however, it may not be.  If that's the case you need ot see if there is a provision in your lease that requires they follow all local codes and regulations in which case the city's requirement should be enough for you to pressure them to do it.   The main issue is who pays if you have to do it.  I think you have a good case here but I'm no attorney.  I would try to convince them to do it, if they don't let them know you will have it removed and charge them, if they resist I would contact @Brad Schaeppi at

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1. Your lease will say who is responsible, if it doesn't you are responsible.  On MF properties this is usually the landlord's responsibility.

2.  You can move this to the tenant if done correctly as Tim mentioned but I hire it out.  Easier to rely on a contractor and pay an extra $20 than rely on a tenant.

3.  Tell them to remove it.  Hopefully your lease discussed compliance with local laws.

@Tim Swierczek and @John Woodrich both have good general advice--generally speaking--"what does the lease say" before you move onto state code and city ordinances.  Please also accept this general advice that is not a legal opinion, but preliminary feedback.  As I always state--if you seek good, fact specific legal advice, hire a landlord-tenant attorney to help you.  

First, when residential lease violations complications arise, and in Minnesota with a private market lease,  first revert to the "out" meaning:  when does the lease end?  Sounds like from your earlier post the lease is month to month or term ends soon.  Check your notice date on your lease.  No landlord wants to spend extra money they don't have to (cost to turn, find new tenants), but landlords constantly make decisions over the "benefit of the bargain:" is it worth the lease violations and city trouble to deal with a tenant who otherwise pays rent on time.  

Always, Always start negotiation with a delivery of a notice to vacate (if applicable).  If new lease negotiations do not work out, the notice sticks and the tenant must go on the notice date.  If you do not deliver a notice to vacate first and instead only negotiate in good faith, you are hoping the problem tenant will accept your more stringent lease terms--but he or she may not--and you lost time to find a replacement tenant. 

Good luck!

You’ve got really good advice above. Being in the area and getting the same letters from City interns every summer, my lease says tenant is responsible for paying fines imposed by the city for any violation that is tenants responsibility. 

Good luck with your journey. Get connected with landlord meetings in Brainerd if you aren’t going.

Assuming that the duplexes are in Brainerd it would be in your best interest to force the tennents to get the vehicle taken care of asap. If you stay on the good side of the city's rules and regulations it will make your investing career easier.

Dont clean up the mess for them it will only get worse if you allow them to get away with it. Right now it will still be possible to evict them and get someone in the unit before rental market slows down substantially in the lakes area. All my sub 700 a month rentals have less then a weeks vacancy in Brainerd proper, dont be afraid to kick them out.

@Brad Hicks Thank you for that.  Also great advise!  I received a call this morning that everything was clean up.  We will see. :)  Hopefully the rental market continues down a strong path.  If this goes well I'm hoping to purchase a couple more duplexes.  

@Jeffrey V Andersen . Just to reiterate what most everybody said, it's all about the lease. But, it's also about SOP for your area. My tenants in all my duplexes pay for all utilities (including garbage), and also are responsible for all snow removal and lawn maintenance. My lease also specifically states sidewalks for snow removal, and also states if the city fines me for any failure to comply with this will result in the tenant being charges asap for the cost (not from damage deposit), and could be grounds for eviction. Some applicants get confused on the difference between a duplex and a townhome, with the townhome having lawn mowing and other "amenities". I merely tell them this is more like living in a house, without all the bothers of so many neighbors like in a townhome. It's all about personal preference for applicants. 

Now, many have said if you leave lawn care to your tenants you will get a crappy job. Well, kind of. While I leave the simple mowing to them, I have gone to my duplexes for extra work such as trimming bushes, pulling weeds, and landscaping work. Just not having to go to each duplex and mow the law once a week in the summer is good. And no way am I shoveling snow or paying hundreds of dollar each month so the tenant can get their own cars out of their garage. 

@Anthony Wick   Thank you for confirming what I was leaning towards when it comes to these duties.  I feel the same way and when paying for lawncare and snow removal it really makes it a challenge to gain any profit.  I'm going to add "My lease also specifically states sidewalks for snow removal, and also states if the city fines me for any failure to comply with this will result in the tenant being charges asap for the cost (not from damage deposit), and could be grounds for eviction."  That is great advise!!!  

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