Rental properties can have complex rules regarding the property owner’s responsibility for keeping the place in good shape. While some things like appliance repair are cut and dry, some aspects of home maintenance are a little less clear. Landscaping is one of the areas where there may be some confusion about what responsibilities the property owner has versus the tenant.
To ensure you’re not on the hook for landscaping, here are the guidelines you need to know about your responsibilities as a property owner:
The responsibilities of the property owner will vary depending on what type of home they’re renting out. A single-family dwelling is perhaps the most clear-cut when it comes to landlord responsibilities. In this case, routine yard maintenance is up to the tenant—not the property owner.
In this arrangement, it’s important to clearly define what is meant by routine yard maintenance. This includes common occurrences like cutting the grass, weeding planters, trimming shrubs, and generally keeping the weeds from overrunning the yard. In the winter months, it also extends to shovelling snow.
Tenants are responsible for most of the yard maintenance services that need to be taken care of at a single-family residence. However, they can’t do any major landscaping without the property owner’s permission. For example, if they want to start a garden, they’ll need to get permission before they start to dig or plant the first flower.
Townhouses, Duplexes, or Triplexes
Things are a little different if you own a multi-family residence instead of a single-family unit. Much of the arrangement for landscaping depends on the initial agreement between tenants and their landlord, but there are some generally accepted rules. For example, townhomes or multiplexes that have access to a full yard or part of a yard may be the tenant’s responsibility to maintain.
This is true only if they have exclusive access to this area.
Some agreements hammer out a different arrangement, putting the responsibility of care on the property owner. If you’re unsure who is ultimately responsible for these routine services, the best thing to do is check the contract that was established with your tenant or your property management company.
Some property owners may own buildings with more than three units in them. In this case, the rules regarding multi-unit residential buildings are different from townhomes, duplexes, and triplexes, and fall under the property owner’s responsibility.
The property owner must complete all routine yard maintenance like cutting grass and weeding planters to keep the place looking nice.
Additionally, they’re responsible for clearing away snow so that tenants can easily use the sidewalks and stairs. They should also ensure that tenants have access to their parking stalls, but they’re not required to actually remove snow from the stalls themselves. These are important differences to note when drafting up contracts with your tenants.
No matter what type of dwelling you’ll be renting out, there is one expense that always falls under the responsibility of the property owner: Major projects. A tenant can put in a garden with permission, but it’s up to the property owner if the dwelling or yard will require more serious work like the cutting down of trees.
Be sure to specify who is responsible for some of these major items in your lease agreement. For example, a property owner could be responsible for spraying the yard for insects or weeds a few times each year.
A good rule of thumb is that if the lease doesn’t spell out who is responsible for some of these more major issues, it’s generally assumed to fall on the landlord.
Deciding Who Takes Care of the Yard
While the above rules are generally accepted regarding yard responsibility, you may want to work out a different agreement with your tenants. Some property owners will prefer to have their tenants take care of everything—and they may be required to compensate them for their work. This puts the emphasis on the tenant keeping up with the yard: Mowing, fertilizing, watering, and shovelling snow.
On the other hand, the property owner may feel that their tenant won’t uphold the standards that they want for their property, and they may feel more comfortable taking on this responsibility themselves, offering full-service landscaping in the lease.
Depending on the comfort of the tenants and the property owner, there may also be a division of labour. For example, the tenant may agree to mow the lawn if the property owner takes care of the flowerbeds.
Hiring a Property Management Company
If you’re unsure who should be responsible for the landscaping at your property, it might be time to let a Winnipeg property management company handle the details of your leases with the tenants. Premier Property Solutions Inc. can help you get your property in order and keep it looking pristine. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you manage your properties and take care of the details of your landscaping!