When the exterior of your Grand Rapids rental property is attractive and inviting, it will be more desirable to high quality tenants. The right landscaping can keep your rental values high and ensure a brief vacancy period. Good tenants will be eager to rent a home that looks fresh and inviting on the outside.
You know you want your lawn to be mowed regularly and your bushes and trees to be trimmed back. Weeds should be zapped and mulch should be refreshed, especially if you have flower beds surrounding the property.
But who is responsible for keeping that property looking so good? Is this a landlord responsibility or something you’ll leave up to your tenants?
The decision is generally up to you. There’s nothing in the state or local rental laws that identify lawn care as a tenant or landlord responsibility.
Here’s what you’ll need to consider as you’re deciding how to handle landscaping.
Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities for Grand Rapids Rental Homes
In completely general terms, it’s ultimately the landlord who takes care of the landscaping. This can be facilitated in a number of ways:
- You can attend to the lawn yourself. Maybe you feel strongly about your grass and your landscaping and you want to be hands-on. In this case, you can go to the property every week or so to mow and prune. Remember that you cannot simply show up; your tenants need to know your schedule, and you should not expect to enter the property while you’re landscaping.
- You can hire a landscaping service to manage the mowing, weeding, mulching, and other yard care responsibilities.
Keeping the landscaping responsibilities in your bucket as a property owner is a good idea because you can be sure the lawn is getting the attention it deserves. If your property is in an HOA, you also have to worry about violations if the grass or weeds grow too high.
Another way to hold tenants responsible without expecting them to actually cut the lawn and trim back the leaves is to hire a landscaping service but then roll the cost of that service into the rent.
Some owners prefer to pass this responsibility entirely on to the tenants, however. If you’re renting out a single-family home, this is more common. You might have a tenant who moves in with their own lawnmower and is ready to make this a part of their weekly schedule.
Whoever is ultimately responsible for the landscaping, you want to make sure it’s explicitly assigned to either the tenant or the landlord in the lease agreement and agreed upon by both parties.
In a multi-family property, it’s more difficult to hold tenants responsible for lawn care and landscaping. In this situation, the responsibility will need to remain with the landlord. Hire a service and have the tenants share the cost by incorporating the cost into the rental amount. Or, pay for the lawn care yourself and use it as part of your marketing so tenants know they’re getting the lawn care included. This could be a major selling point.
Include Landscaping in Your Grand Rapids Lease Agreement
The lease agreement needs to reflect who is responsible for landscaping at your Grand Rapids rental property. This is especially important if you’re going to assign lawn maintenance to your tenants.
Be specific. The lease shouldn’t simply say that the tenant is responsible for lawn care. It should include all the specific responsibilities for which your tenant should be responsible. If you’re vague, there may be confusion and conflict.
Some of those specifics might include:
- Lawn mowing
- Trimming bushes and branches
- Snow removal
- Fertilizer treatments
- Watering and irrigation
Talk about these details before your tenant signs the lease so they know what is expected of them.
If you’re going to hire a service or maintain the lawn yourself, the lease should also reflect that so the tenant isn’t confused about whether they should be mowing or shoveling.
Managing Expectations with Grand Rapids Tenants
A very good reason to keep landscaping responsibilities in the property owner column is that you may find your tenants don’t have the same standards as you do. If you’re particular about your grass or your HOA is serious about keeping everything orderly and uniform, your tenants will have to be on point.
What if they’re not?
Your lease should also discuss the course of action that will be taken if your tenants fail to keep up with the landscaping when it’s their responsibility.
First, communicate with your tenants in an effort to keep things non-confrontational. You want to preserve a good working relationship with your residents. Ask why they’re not keeping up with lawn care and find out how you can be supportive. If it’s a matter of your tenants not having the time, you can offer to hire a service. Busy tenants may be willing to pay a little extra in rent in exchange for hiring professional landscapers.
If the tenant doesn’t agree to hire landscapers and still doesn’t meet the landscaping obligations that are outlined in the lease agreement, you may have to send them a letter that they’re in violation of that lease. Apply any penalties that are stated in the lease and give your tenants a time period with which to comply.
You may have grounds to evict the tenant for continued or repeated failures to maintain the lawn if it’s their responsibility, but that’s extreme. Try to work things out with the tenant. Or, avoid this complication and risk altogether by keeping control of the lawn and landscaping.
If you already have a landscaping service that has worked well for you at this property or another Grand Rapids rental property, there’s little reason to switch things up. What matters is the appearance of your property, and you should do whatever is required to keep it looking attractive to potential tenants.
We work out landscaping and other details for landlords and tenants all the time. If you have questions or need help, please contact us at Short South Management & Development.