Is the tenant responsible for lawn maintenance?
In a rental agreement, lawn maintenance responsibility typically defaults to the landlord as the property owner. This is because proper home maintenance is often a neighborhood or city requirement. The property owner is the one whose name is on file. Defaulting to the landlord ensures maintenance continuity regardless of whether tenants live in the home. Check if your local jurisdiction requires the landlord to perform exterior maintenance like lawn care. If your jurisdiction mandates landlords to handle lawn care, you can negotiate lawn maintenance responsibilities within your rental agreement.
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Tenant damages and lawn care responsibilities
While the law generally requires landlords to maintain properties, it also requires tenants not to damage the property or create unsafe, unsanitary, or illegal conditions in the house through neglect — like causing mold growth or violating fire codes. If a tenant's careless actions damage the lawn, they may be responsible for repairs even if the lease agreement doesn't require them to do ordinary maintenance.
Defining lawn maintenance responsibilities in rental agreements
If you're a landlord concerned about taking good care of a rental home's yard, it's always better to specify each party's responsibilities in the lease. There are three basic models for framing a rental agreement regarding lawn maintenance.
A full-service lawn care agreement means that the landlord will provide lawn care services for the property. This is the safest choice for landlords since they can ensure the property is maintained the way they want. Landlords with multiple properties may be able to negotiate a bulk rate with a lawn care company to care for all of them. Landlords can consider adding the cost of lawn care to the rent. That way, the property is maintained, landlords don't have to pay for the lawn service, and tenants only pay their rent.
Self-service agreements specify in the lease that tenants are responsible for lawn care, shifting the burden of worrying about lawn care or hiring a landscaping company to the tenant. That's one less thing for the landlord to manage, but there's no guarantee that the tenant will take care of the property the way the landlord wants them to.
A la carte
Some rental agreements specify certain tasks for the tenant and assign other lawn maintenance responsibilities to the landlord. For instance, a tenant might be responsible for day-to-day maintenance like cutting the grass, while the landlord is responsible for extraordinary or seasonal maintenance like trimming trees or properly winterizing a home. Some a la carte agreements provide incentives for the tenant to perform the necessary work, like a discount on the water bill to offset the cost of watering the lawn or garden.