Tenant Issues with duplex yard sharing

8 Replies


I recently had a couple move into the 2nd floor unit of a duplex I own.  The couple on the first floor have been there since before I bought the place and have a lot of stuff in the backyard (plants, grills, patio furniture).  No one who lived there before ever wanted to use the backyard.  Now they are having a dispute with the couple on the 2nd floor about backyard usage.  They want an even split in the backyard.  They have left their dog outside by itself and it has torn up plants.  They just can't seem to get along.  

Now they are threatening to leave.

Any experiences with tenants sharing outdoor spaces?

it sounds like the background isn't big enough for two.  Allow the new tenant to break the lease. Then make the backyard access a part of the lease of the remaining tenant.  Tell them you'll have to raise the rent for exclusive use of the backyard. 

We have duplexes where we can put a fence in the middle and the left duplex enters uses the left side and the right duplex uses the right side. They each have their own private back yard

With a first and second floor duplex you probably can not do this?  

@Ryan Schreiber

I agree with @Tony Christian .  Let them move out and find new tenants. 

I have a duplex and the upstairs tenants were there first.  They never wanted to do maintenance or just regular care for the yard.  I always ended up paying someone to just mow the lawn.

When I did find tenants for the first floor, they inquired about use of the back.  I took this opportunity and offered them exclusive use of the yard but they would have to do the maintenance.  They said yes.

I informed the upstairs tenant that the downstairs tenants would taking over the maintenance and as such would have exclusive use of the yard.  They could not argue the point since I had offered them the opportunity to care for it and use it over the years, but never agreed to do so.  This was also written into their lease renewal.

Just be sure to tell all prospective tenants about the first floor's exclusive use of the back yard moving forward. 

Let us know what happens.


Hi Ryan,

Common problem I guess.  I have a triplex, and the downstairs apartment was using the backyard exclusively during their tenancy, no one had an issue.  Then they moved out and the new ones cleared the garden out to get ready to plant, and one of the upstairs tenants beat them to it.  It wasn't in the leases, but it is now that unit 1 gets the backyard unless they otherwise agree.  They ended up letting the upstairs unit use the garden and share the backyard space, and I let them use the front garden which gets more sun anyways.  Lesson learned, it will be in all leases from now on!


Thanks everyone for the replies.  Giving exclusive use to the 1st floor is what I was considering, since they are in charge of lawn maintenance.  And giving the 2nd floor the option to break the lease.   From this experience it just seems best to avoid any common areas if possible, to avoid tenant conflicts.  Anyone else ever have problems with other shared spaces, basements, storage, garages, laundry?

Hey there! 

I have absolutely no experience right now in real estate.  I'm learning at the moment, but I can tell you some of the issues I've personally encountered being a tenant regarding these issues.  

Some issues were that shared space often got muddled with other's possessions that weren't cleaned up.  Destruction of other's property.  People using more than their allocated amount of parking spaces.  Leaving/forgetting laundry in laundry room.  Using amenities past times allowed.  

Honestly, most of these issues, from what I've noticed, have happened because people set the rules but don't really enforce them.

I've shared a backyard with others both in a property I was renting and now with my own backyard (share with my tenants).  The only problem I have ever had with it is in relation to dogs.  I don't know why most people don't promptly (within the same day) pick up after their dogs, but they don't.

It was especially annoying as a renter...I didn't even have a dog at the time...but occasionally had to pick up after the other renter's dog because there were feces all over the backyard.

My first floor tenants have sole access and responsibility for the backyard. They also pay a higher rent than the upstairs tenant. Makes things easy for me to enforce and easy for them to understand.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here