Tenant not mowing lawn. What can I legally do?

21 Replies

Hi Bigger pocket folks,

I have a renter in a duplex that does not seem to be able to keep the lawn in order.  It is in the lease agreement  and he is  renting month to month.  I did send a letter a month ago   stating that I am going to hire a landscaper to do it and consequently this amount would be added to their rent.  (Increase of $18.50. ) So the month has rolled by and no extra payment included and I am not sure which direction to go. I am not sure that I want to go as far as vacating them but I do want to send a message that I mean business.  Any suggestions??? 

Thanks for the feedback

Liz

360‑440‑2906 | WA Agent # 124142

Well if the rent was increased and they didn't pay it.... They didn't pay rent. Give them a notice to pay and start the eviction. Tell them that you don't accept "partial rent payments"

Medium head icon colorRyan Dossey, Call Porter | http://Callporter.com | IN Agent # RB15001099

Have you called him and asked him why he's not mowing the lawn? If we're talking about $18/month, I would hesitate to do into eviction for it. Why not deduct it from his security deposit? Also, even if he does vacate peaceably, the time that you're going to have a vacant unit with no cash flow will eat up the gardening fees for a year very quickly. I would try to talk with him and find out what the issue is. Eviction is extremely difficult and will cost you a lot more than it will cost him. 

Was your first course of action on the subject that notice telling him you were hiring a landscaper? That basically let him off of the hook if so. You need to contact the tenant with a notice of late rent and whatever your late fee is.

I'd talk to him first, professionally.

You can also end the lease (not evict) and raise the rent $50/mo so that you can take care of the lawn.

I don't know what your cash flow is, but $37/mo isn't bad to keep it cut 2x/mo.

Originally posted by @Jacob Edmond :

Was your first course of action on the subject that notice telling him you were hiring a landscaper? That basically let him off of the hook if so. You need to contact the tenant with a notice of late rent and whatever your late fee is.

 I am not sure what you mean by "letting him off the hook."  I sent him a letter addressing the issue of the tenants responsibilities and because the lawn was not being kept up, per the lease agreement, that I would need to  hire a landscaper ..at his expense .   Was there another bit of protocol that I misses??

360‑440‑2906 | WA Agent # 124142

Originally posted by @Dan Costantino:

I'd talk to him first, professionally.

You can also end the lease (not evict) and raise the rent $50/mo so that you can take care of the lawn.

I don't know what your cash flow is, but $37/mo isn't bad to keep it cut 2x/mo.

 Actually I am having it cut 2x month for $18.50. To me is a bargain.

360‑440‑2906 | WA Agent # 124142

Sounds like you're at an impasse with this tenant, although he/she is a good tenant.  I mean, they pay their rent on time!  You need to speak with him/her in person and sort this out.  Call your tenant and ask them when a good time would be to discuss the lawn.  If they do not get back to you, then they are non-compliant and I would give them a 60 day notice.  Yes, that will communicate that you mean business.

In the meantime, start advertising the unit, so that you can have a nice, smooth transition to the next tenant.  Oh, and when prospective tenants ask you WHY the unit has become available (and they should if they are doing their due diligence) you tell them that the current tenants agreed to mow the lawn, but did not, so you asked them to leave.  

My 2 cents.  

P.S. If you give them a 60 day notice, follow-up immediately with a full inspection of the property (with proper notice of course).  Take a note pad and write down everything that you find.  Start showing the place and in 45 days, do another full inspection.  

Originally posted by @Elizabeth Blazina:
Originally posted by @Jacob Edmond:

Was your first course of action on the subject that notice telling him you were hiring a landscaper? That basically let him off of the hook if so. You need to contact the tenant with a notice of late rent and whatever your late fee is.

 I am not sure what you mean by "letting him off the hook."  I sent him a letter addressing the issue of the tenants responsibilities and because the lawn was not being kept up, per the lease agreement, that I would need to  hire a landscaper ..at his expense .   Was there another bit of protocol that I missed??

360‑440‑2906 | WA Agent # 124142

If the tenant is on a lease, you cannot just raise the rent.  If your lease allows it, though, you can charge them for the landscaper.  Mine does.  And mine says money I receive can be applied to such charges first, then to the rent.  Further, mine says that any city fines have to be paid by the tenant, too.  So, I would apply some of the money I received to the charge, then inform then the rent is short and needs to be paid to avoid late fees.  

Jon Holdman, Flying Phoenix LLC

Did you ask him why he's not mowing it?  It could be that after receiving your letter he decided not to mow it and let you hire the landscaper to do it as you said you were going to.  Afterall, that is very cheap.  If you sent me a letter that said I didn't have to do my lawn anymore and it was only going to cost me $18.50 a month then I'd take you up on that deal.

Originally posted by @Elizabeth Blazina :
Originally posted by @Jacob Edmond:

Was your first course of action on the subject that notice telling him you were hiring a landscaper? That basically let him off of the hook if so. You need to contact the tenant with a notice of late rent and whatever your late fee is.

 I am not sure what you mean by "letting him off the hook."  I sent him a letter addressing the issue of the tenants responsibilities and because the lawn was not being kept up, per the lease agreement, that I would need to  hire a landscaper ..at his expense .   Was there another bit of protocol that I misses??

 When my tenant wasn't keeping the yard up, I sent her a picture and let her know that I knew it wasn't being kept, and that she needed to cut it, per the lease. She cut it the next day. 

I prefer to give them the opportunity to fix it, while letting them know there are repercussions if they don't. Not saying that is the answer with this tenant, but it didn't sound like they had that chance from the way you described.

I think now that you have told them you were taking care of it and charging them. You just have to follow through and make sure they know they owe it and if they don't pay they have to go.

Good luck. Not a fun situation.

Originally posted by @Kyle J. :

Did you ask him why he's not mowing it?  It could be that after receiving your letter he decided not to mow it and let you hire the landscaper to do it as you said you were going to.  Afterall, that is very cheap.  If you sent me a letter that said I didn't have to do my lawn anymore and it was only going to cost me $18.50 a month then I'd take you up on that deal.

 I did not ask him.  But I have mentioned it a few times and he has agreed that he has not done a good job.  Personally , I have no problem hiring out to get the lawn mowed.. I am giving someone a job , and getting the lawn mowed, and the tenant does not have to worry about it. .. All win, win.   I just don't want to be stuck with the bill. I try to be fair but within reason.

360‑440‑2906 | WA Agent # 124142

Originally posted by @Elizabeth Blazina:
Originally posted by @Kyle J.:

Did you ask him why he's not mowing it?  It could be that after receiving your letter he decided not to mow it and let you hire the landscaper to do it as you said you were going to.  Afterall, that is very cheap.  If you sent me a letter that said I didn't have to do my lawn anymore and it was only going to cost me $18.50 a month then I'd take you up on that deal.

 I did not ask him.  But I have mentioned it a few times and he has agreed that he has not done a good job.  Personally , I have no problem hiring out to get the lawn mowed.. I am giving someone a job , and getting the lawn mowed, and the tenant does not have to worry about it. .. All win, win.   I just don't want to be stuck with the bill. I try to be fair but within reason. 

I should mention that I have already had the lawn mowed twice. So he knows that it has been done.

360‑440‑2906 | WA Agent # 124142

Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :

If the tenant is on a lease, you cannot just raise the rent.  If your lease allows it, though, you can charge them for the landscaper.  Mine does.  And mine says money I receive can be applied to such charges first, then to the rent.  Further, mine says that any city fines have to be paid by the tenant, too.  So, I would apply some of the money I received to the charge, then inform then the rent is short and needs to be paid to avoid late fees.  

 Does this apply even if he is on a month to month?  I did send the lease agreement and he never sent it back but continued to pay rent so I reverted to a month to month.  

360‑440‑2906 | WA Agent # 124142

I may be missing something but it sounds like you need to just communicate with your tenant.  You told them you're having the lawn mowed, then you had it done and they didn't pay the 37 dollars.  Have you just texted, called or emailed them and asked?  He may expect to be billed

If it were my tenant I wouldn't do anything silly like claiming they didn't pay rent and threaten them.  Take a picture of your bill or receipt, email it to them and say: please add this amount to your next rent check.  If you get another bill before then write another email, and total it for them so you have in writing what they write the check for.  

No need to be over the top, I think, just communicate with the guy.

Originally posted by @Edward Debbs:

I may be missing something but it sounds like you need to just communicate with your tenant.  You told them you're having the lawn mowed, then you had it done and they didn't pay the 37 dollars.  Have you just texted, called or emailed them and asked?  He may expect to be billed

If it were my tenant I wouldn't do anything silly like claiming they didn't pay rent and threaten them.  Take a picture of your bill or receipt, email it to them and say: please add this amount to your next rent check.  If you get another bill before then write another email, and total it for them so you have in writing what they write the check for.  

No need to be over the top, I think, just communicate with the guy.

 Hi Edward, I actually have texted him and left him a phone message.  Initially I sent a letter regarding the change( mowing the lawn due to lack of lawn care)  roughly 2 months prior. I  still have not heard from him.  I agree with you regarding communication and not wanting to escalate anything , but it's becoming a one sided conversation. He has not given me his email. 

360‑440‑2906 | WA Agent # 124142

I would just document your attempts to communicate the issue with him and just take the final amount out of his deposit when he moves out.

When I get a notice that I will be fined if I don't mow it by a certain date then I go there the day before and mow it.  Just hate when they send the notice to the wrong address and then I'm out over $200.

Originally posted by @Brandon Hall :

I have a lease similar to @Jon Holdman 's and it works wonders. You sent the tenant a statement explaining that they owe x amount for landscaping and if they don't pay it, their rent in total will be late. Refer them back to the lease is they have questions.

 Brandon, check the state laws where you own property.  In North Carolina, it is illegal to use unpaid fees as a trigger for a late rent fine.  In NC, fees are viewed as separate from rent.  There may be similar laws in your state(s).

I hope you catch the common theme in most of these responses. "TALK TO THE TENANT!" I have learned that text, email and mail are NOT as effective as a conversation on the phone and the most effective is face to face. I had a new tenant test me on paying late. I started with text the 1st time, then then 2Nd time I called and the 3rd time I went and met face to face! From that point forward she was NEVER late again! I never bent requiring her to pay the $50 late fee all 3 times and told her that late is NOT acceptable.

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