Everything that needs to be done, must be done by the tenant. This includes mowing the lawn, weeding, fertilizing, watering, mulching, cleaning gutters, etc. While this agreement leaves the owner free of lawn care responsibilities, it also risks improper or incomplete lawn maintenance. Is a tenant as proud of their lawn as you are? Can you expect your property to be taken care of as well if it is a rental property? As a property owner, you want to make sure your lawn looks good, is healthy and well maintained.
It is recommended that you discuss your concerns and expectations with a future tenant, as well as document the terms agreed upon in your rental or lease agreement. Our Real Property Management professionals suggest 3 different strategies for lawn care: self-service, full service and an à la carte agreement. All three strategies have advantages and disadvantages, and you should be sure to consider all the rules, regulations and laws of local municipalities and homeowners associations (HOA). A self-service lawn care agreement means that the tenant is responsible for all aspects of lawn care, namely, mowing the lawn, fertilizing, watering, weeding and any other necessary care or maintenance.
The advantage of this scenario is that you, the landlord, don't have to deal with it. The disadvantage comes if the tenant neglects the lawn completely or does not care for it as agreed. In some areas, penalties and fines may be imposed on the property owner by their local municipality if the lawn is not maintained and homeowners' associations can do the same. A full service lawn care agreement is when the owner assumes full responsibility for lawn care.
In climates where there is frequent snow, snow removal is sometimes included in this scenario. Usually, the owner hires a lawn care service to care for and maintain the lawn. The advantage, of course, is having a professionally licensed company responsible for your lawn. The disadvantage, if any, would be the additional cost of the service, however, some landlords include this additional fee in the rent.
An à la carte agreement is an “intermediate” agreement between the landlord or property manager and the tenant. For example, the landlord may be willing to fertilize the lawn and pay a portion of the water bill to ensure that the tenant irrigates the lawn properly and only needs to weed, mow and water the grass. This agreement can be very beneficial to both because only part of the responsibility lies with either party. In most cases, the owner hires the services of a lawn care professional to care for and maintain the lawn.
A typical example is when a property owner agrees to fertilize the lawn and pay a portion of the water bill so that the tenant can water the lawn properly. Therefore, we have had to add text to our lease agreements that states that if a tenant does not maintain the lawn it results in us sending them two or more warnings, then we have the right to include the property in a monthly maintenance program and bill the tenant for it.