This time of year, the grass, weeds, and shrubs grow with vigor. We all have a tough time keeping up with our own yards, so the question that is often asked is how a landlord is to deal with tenants who can’t or won’t keep up with landscaping.
If you have been a landlord for long you already know that in this digital age many tenants are too involved in their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, video games, email, text, Netflix, and etc, to notice that the grass is a foot tall (or more). Many of these tenants are great, save for this one item. What is a landlord to do?
Well, if you have it in the budget and want to react to the market, provide landscaping. Usually, providing an every other week service is enough, with a little extra help in the spring and fall. And, the landlord can usually charge about half of the cost to the tenants in the form of higher rent. Many tenants have already had a situation where the landlord and themselves had different expectations and are willing to pay a premium for this service. Many landscaping companies already cater to landlords and are happy to accommodate. For the extra expense, you will have a longer tenancy (on average) and a smoother relationship with your tenants.
If you just do not have it in the budget or you have a tenant that is just really keen on taking care of the yard themselves, it is the landlord’s responsibility to keep it simple and make your expectations (in writing) clear to the tenants.
Give the tenants a landscape that is simple to build and simple to maintain. An intricate landscape is a beautiful thing but expecting your tenants to maintain it is not. Keep it simple with low maintenance plants and shrubs. Do not have flowerbeds with lots of flowers (sorry) and plants that are difficult to maintain.
Keeping the trees pruned should be the landlord’s responsibility. The job is tough and one bad pruning job is sometimes all it takes to permanently ruin a tree. This goes for winterizing the irrigation in the fall, turning the irrigation back on in the summer, and repairing broken sprinklers and such.
Basically, landlords have to work smart and have realistic expectations about their tenants and landscaping. Their goal for the property and the tenant’s goal are never going to be the same. A landlord’s goal should be to have a smooth, long-term, and profitable (hopefully) tenancy. In order to achieve that, we should be looking to reduce if not eliminate any obstacle or confusion. Keeping your landscaping simple to maintain, or providing landscaping will go a long way toward your goals.
–This article was written for the Lane County Rental Owners Association. Empire fully enforces tenants doing their own landscaping when required.