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Who’s Responsible? The Rental Home Lawn Care Debate

Is it my responsibility to mow the lawn in my rental home? Who shovels the snow, rakes the leaves or pulls the weeds? 

A good looking lawn requires a lot of hard work and is a source of pride for any homeowner, but what if you don’t live in your home? The rental home lawn care debate is a very common issue that should be addressed, agreed upon and put into your rental agreement or lease. If your home is occupied by tenants, ask yourself these questions:

Does a tenant take as much pride in your lawn as you do?

Can you expect your property to be taken care of as well if it’s a rental property?

What are the expectations and responsibilities of the tenant/landlord relationship when it comes to lawn care?

rental home lawn care

rental yard overgrown lawn grass bad unkept rental home lawn careAs a property owner, you want to make sure your lawn looks good, is healthy and well taken care of. Discussing your concerns and expectations with a future tenant is recommended as is documenting your agreed upon terms in your rental contract or lease. Our professionals at Real Property Management suggest 3 different strategies for lawn care; Self-service, full service, and an a-la-carte-agreement. There are pros and cons to all three strategies and you want to make sure you consider all rules, regulations and laws in your local municipalities and home owner associations (HOA’s).old lady elderly woman picking pulling weeds garden rental home lawn care

Self-Service Lawn Care

A self-service lawn care agreement means the tenant is responsible for all aspects of lawn care, i.e. mowing, fertilizing, watering, weeding, and any other care or maintenance needed. The advantage to this scenario is you, the landlord, don’t have to deal with it. The downside comes if or when the tenant either neglects the lawn completely or doesn’t care for the lawn as agreed to. In some areas, penalties and fines can be imposed on the property owner from their local municipality if the lawn is un-kept and homeowner associations can do the same.

lawn service yard care weed eating leaf blower worker gardener landscaper rental home lawn careFull-Service Lawn Care

A Full-Service lawn care agreement is when the property owner takes all the responsibility of lawn care. In climates where there is frequent snow, snow removal is sometimes included in this scenario.  Usually the landlord hires out 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 downside, if any, would be the additional cost of the service however, some property owners include this added fee into the rent.

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watering yard lawn grass father child daughter rental home lawn care

A-La-Carte Agreement

An a-la-carte agreement is a “middle of the road” type of agreement made between the property owner or property manager and the tenant. For example, the property owner may be willing to fertilize the lawn and pay a portion of the water bill to ensure the tenant waters the lawn adequately and the tenant is required to only weed, mow and water the lawn.  This arrangement can be very beneficial to both because only a portion of the responsibility is on either party.

Real Property Managementfor rent sign rental home real property management rental home lawn care is the national leader in property management and handles this and many similar situations daily. In our experience, the first step is to decide on what works best for you, the property owner, but try to be flexible. Weigh the pros and cons, check your local laws and regulations surrounding your home, perform proper tenant screenings, discuss the options and no matter what you and your tenant decide upon, make sure your agreement is in writing, preferably in your rental agreement.  Should you need professional assistance with any aspect of your rental property, we are here to help and just a phone call away!



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  1. Martin says:

    I stay at New Mexico and inside my Rental Contract is written that the owner take care about the backyard like mowing and terminate bad growing of weed. But the owner don’t take care about and send every 6-8 weeks someone out to Mow the grass and cut the trash alley weed.

    What can i do?
    Don’t pay full rent?
    Possible to break the contract and move?

    Please help thanks

    1. First, I would recommend that you put a complaint in writing to your property manager. Documenting any disputes is vital. While it may be a breach of the lease agreement, lawn care is not an issue of habitability, so keep paying full rent or you may cause more trouble onto yourself. I would also recommend seeking legal council before making any big decisions. The law varies state to state regarding broken leases. Some states have fair housing groups (like project sentinel) that will provide free council. Good luck!

  2. Thomas Williams says:

    My landlord will not cut the grass. We do not have a lease. Can I hire someone and take it out of my rent?

    1. Without a lease it is hard to answer your question. Most single family homes are leased on the premise that the lawn care, pest control and light upkeep type maintenance (watering lawn, weed removal, light bulbs, batteries etc.) and lock and key issues are resident responsibilities. But, as you read in the article, the responsibility can vary based on the lease agreement. If you don’t have a lease, you will have a hard time enforcing any refund for lawn care services. Good luck!

  3. Judee johns says:

    My daughter has rented the same duplex for 15 years- the landlord has never fixed up the front lawn which is just ugly rocks – back yard is just dirt and weeds- she demands that daughter does the upkeep- will raise the rent over $200.00 more per month if she hires someone to do this- the few things she has had to replace are done in a shoddy manner – and it is an old duplex- what suggestions do you have? Thank you

    1. I would suggest that your daughter checks her lease agreement to see who was legally responsible for the upkeep of the yard. If it was stipulated in the lease that the daughter is responsible for the upkeep of the landscaping, then she will need to comply. If the owner is responsible, then your daughter has recourse. If no one is named as responsible, she could contest that it was not something she agreed to at move in, but that may be considered implied in her state. She should also consult her state landlord-tenant laws for guidance. Good luck!

  4. Brian says:

    My home rental lease states that I am responsible for the lawn. I do not own a lawn mower. Is it reasonable to ask the property management company to provide me with the tools (lawnmower, trimmer) so that I can take care of that? Trying to afford to buy those will be difficult right now and do not work into my budget. Please help and thank you!

    1. Michael Stone says:


      Although it’s reasonable to ask your property management company to provide you with the tools, it’s also reasonable for them to decline since they may need those tools on a regular basis for all the other properties that they manage. They also might not have any if they use landscaping services, or use leases that require the tenant to take care of the lawn. Try asking and see what they say. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility, though, according to the lease agreement.

      Are you familiar with tool libraries? You can borrow tools just like you can books at a library. Check out: Tool Libraries. You might also want to ask your neighbors.

  5. Johanna Cuevas says:

    My lawn has in all hinesty been neglected mother has been sick quite often however that said the landlord said it needed to be done which I agree with he authorized someone to come do it but it is out of my pay I found someone else for a lot less who is doing it can my landlord force me to retain his person if we don’t want too?

    1. Michael Stone says:

      You had the opportunity to either take care of the lawn, or find a lower cost person to do the work, before your landlord had to take care of the situation. Your best option now is to try to negotiate with your landlord. Perhaps offer to sign a twelve month contract with the person who will do it for less, and see whether your landlord will accept this.

  6. John overstreet says:

    Ive rented a portion of property from a grumpy old woman who is only an hieress to the land. I take care of an acre of land on my own as i mow it and rake it and keep it beautiful myself. Is it true that: as long as i take care of the property that im paying for that if someone else comes on the land and messes it up and invades my privacy that i take care of….that., i can legally run off ever who it is thats messing up what i take care of without getting the landlord involved? Isnt that an invasion of privacy by law and a ‘quiet enjoyment’ infringment?

    1. Michael Stone says:

      This would best be answered by legal counsel or law enforcement.

  7. Diana says:

    We rented a place while not living in the state with dead grass, when we moved in the grass was green. We were then visited by the county about water waste, apparently 227,000 gallons. The property management were the only other folks with keys. They are refusing to pay and they say it’s our fault. We have flight tickets and military orders that do not place us in the state 21/37 days of water waste. We did sign a lease to maintain the lawn in June, turned on all utilities Mid July and moved in officially late August . The bill was $1200 and we paid for it upfront becuz we have young ones. The property manager says the owners are lawyers so they know the law well enough and do not feel they have to pay. We are at a loss, figuratively and literally. What do you advise?

    1. Michael Stone says:

      We suggest that you contact local legal counsel in this situation.

  8. Jo Monty says:

    We have rented from a family for the last 3 years. The first lease was a 2-year lease and included gas, electric, and water utilities. At the end of that lease, they didn’t raise the rent, but had us take on the utilities, so it was like a raise in rent. Now we’re at the end of the 3rd year, and they want to add a clause in stating that we need to maintain the landscape — cutting grass, maintaining flower beds, weeding, keeping bushes neatly trimmed, and cleaning up after pets. We have been renting for 3 years without that clause, and we are not yard work people – we never have been, even when we owned our own home. Now, we’re 3 years into renting, have not necessarily been doing that maintenance, and now they want us to take it on. Is this fair? Can we be expected to “catch up,” or return the yard to pre-rental shape? What should we be realistically asked to do?

  9. Nicole says:

    In my lease agreement my landlord said they would automatically clean my yard if it was becoming uncared for and add an additional $40 on to rent for the labor. I have requested this service, as I have 2 dogs and do not have time due to my job to maintain it myself. But the landlord is now saying the people who do the service do not WANT to do it because there’s “too much dog stuff”… Even though it was included in my lease agreement, I’ve requested it, they ignored my request… And are now saying I’m in violation of my lease agreement. What would you suggest?

    1. Michael Stone says:

      Dog feces is considered biohazardous waste and is not included in any landscape maintenance job. Try looking into a dog waste removal service.

  10. Tenant with Dead Grass says:

    My lease agreement states that the landlord will pay for the gardener. There is no mention of maintaining any of the landscaping around the house.

    I’m in California and we just got out of a HUGE drought which only allowed us to water the lawn 3X a week for 15 minutes. Needless to say, the grass has dead spots and the flowers were pretty much dead as well (mind you, now that we are approaching spring…the flowers are now coming back to life).

    With the lease stating that the gardener would be paid for by the landlord, would I, the tenant, be responsible for the landscaping? The neighbors grass to the left is in the same condition as mine and the neighbor to the right is nice and green (they watered everyday even with the drought).

    Please help! My landlord is threatening to keep my security deposit. And please also note that I was under the assumption that the gardener was responsible for the landscaping not me, so it wasn’t that I was purposely neglecting the landscape, I truly had no idea that she expected me to be responsible for that.

    1. Michael Stone says:


      We advise that you seek legal counsel.

  11. angela smith says:

    hello, my contract says that every 6 months we must fertilize our lawn with weed and feed, which we have followed. we fertilized our lawn an additional time as well just because the lawn wasn’t looking so well. we followed everything the contract states about lawn care yet our grass is still DEAD! can the landlord charge us at move out to replace the SOD (grass) in the front yard? even if we have proof from receipts? please help. she is trying to take my full security deposit on top of $1,100 additional??

    1. Michael Stone says:


      We advise that you seek legal counsel.

  12. Rosie says:

    There is nothing in the lease about lawn work. Our lawn is completely dead,dried and yellow, crab grass and weeds everywhere. The bushes have not been manicured as well. We moved in while the grass was dying. It’s now three months later and it’s completely dead. We were told that gardners would come often but no gardener has come since we moved in. I’ve complained in email and verbally to the property management company. Their response was the aesthetic of the lawn is fine. What can we do?

    1. Michael Stone says:


      We advise that you seek legal counsel.

  13. Vi says:

    I’m a tenant and the lease says that the owner does ” lawn maintenance” while I take care of the pool. There are bushes growing and the gardener said that I can pay him to do trimming but I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility so I asked. The owner said he’s not going to pay for it. Any advice?

    1. Michael Stone says:

      Unfortunately you can only work with the property owner on this. It is considered cosmetic, so no legal recourse.

  14. Robin Green says:

    I’m a tenant renting a house in FL and the lease says that Tenant shall “have the yard maintained by mowing, keep hedges and trees trimmed, weeds removed from hedges, walkways, and yard clear of trash and debris. Any holes or hazardous conditions are to be corrected. Yard must be watered at least 3 times per week”. I have lived here 11 months and I have receipts to prove that I have complied with the above. I am a model tenant, always pay rent on time, etc. Quick background: My lease lists the realtor/property manager as the Landlord and Property Manager. The person who actually owns the house is not named and did not sign my lease. As per lease instructions, my rental payments are made out to the property manager, not the individual owner.
    Despite my complying with the lawn maintenance provision quoted above, the front yard has a significant amount of dead spots surrounded by healthy grass. The owner of the house has received a letter addressed to him from the HOA asking him to replace the dead grass. The property manager emailed the letter to me, “Please see attached and see about working on the spots they mentioned”. Upon receipt of this email, I put out grass seed and watered regularly (I kept the receipts and took pics of seed on the ground), but I’m no landscaper. It’s been 10 days and the seeds apparently have not ‘taken’, bare spots are still bare. Out of curiosity, I asked my regular lawn guy what it would cost to replace the grass. He said labor and costs = $400. As you can see from the quoted lawn provision above, my lease does not mention whose responsibility it is to replace dead grass. Isn’t this the responsibility of the owner or landlord/property manager? Can the owner/property manager/landlord argue that my refusal to replace the dead grass somehow violates the lease and use that as a reason not to renew the lease? My lease is up 6/30/17. Thank you for reading and your advice.

    1. Michael Stone says:

      We advise that you seek the assistance and opinion of a landlord/tenant attorney or tenant advocacy group.

  15. CM says:

    Hi, in my lease the only mention of landscaping/lawn is “The Lessee is responsible for maintaining the lawn.” I have maintained the lawn in that I have done all the weeding, cutting, trimming etc.

    My landlord recently emailed me and enquired about how much fertilizer I had put down, and whether I had laid fresh grass seeds in different areas of the garden. My assumption was that that investment like that in the long term maintenance of the lawn was not a lessees responsibility.

    1. Michael Stone says:

      Tenants and Residents, due to the fact that our office is not licensed to practice law in any state we are unable to answer questions with regard to Landlord/Tenant or other laws or contracts including individual lease agreement questions. For assistance with these items, please contact your local attorney, fair housing authority or other tenant advocacy programs available.

  16. NinaGirl says:

    Yes, i have a question! May lease Say, Tenant agrees to cooperate with the Contractor in a satisfactory manner, well i don’t have Grass, Weed, Wrecker, it’s all Rocks trillion, Just like my contract say Pool and i don’t have a pool, the Property Management say Rocks or the samething and i need to maintain Rock, i move-In this house because i am allergic to grass, and on Disability and my allergies to grass makes me ill, Grass and debris is under more then a Trillion of Rocks, I can’t maintain Grass and Weeds that the Rock was not Professional done, you need to place down Black turp, and cure it and then put Rocks down, i live in a HOA, i have no contact with HOA, or the Owner, the Property Management Company trying to Transfer their Responsibility of Their Services with the Owner to me, i don’t have a pool or a Lawn to water or mow, the property management company had an illegal immigrant, Unlicensed Landscaping Company, that’d couldn’t speak any English to clean up debris, because it’s no Landscaping and added $250 to my rent for Unlicensed Landscapers, before this i called 3 Professional Landscaping Company for estimates and all 3 said Cleanup and Debris, Rock is suppose to be a Prevented measure of Weeds, you can’t maintain something that was never done right from the beginning.

    1. Michael Stone says:

      Due to the fact that our office is not licensed to practice law in any state we are unable to answer questions with regard to Landlord/Tenant or other laws or contracts including individual lease agreement questions. For assistance with these items, please contact your local attorney, fair housing authority or other tenant advocacy programs available.

  17. Gerry says:

    I live in the downstairs apartment and someone lives upstairs in our rental agreement it states that we maintain the outside property but since i have been here nobody that has lived upstairs has done anything outside and when i mention it to the landlord he has some excuse like she’s a girl or the person is old so do i have the right to stop cutting the grass if no one else has to do it ?

    1. Michael Stone says:

      Due to the fact that our office is not licensed to practice law in any state we are unable to answer questions with regard to Landlord/Tenant or other laws or contracts including individual lease agreement questions. For assistance with these items, please contact your local attorney, fair housing authority or other tenant advocacy programs available.

  18. Sarah says:

    I am the owner, landlord and property manager of a two flat. In your property management experience, what have you seen in coordinating the lawn care of two flats, smaller than apartments but not single family? If the lessee is in charge of lawn care, how is this divided and agreed upon by the tenants when you have 2 units sharing the lawn? (I currently have been just doing it but have wondered…)

    1. Michael Stone says:

      We suggest having a lawn service hired and splitting the cost because there really can never be a meeting of the minds with who did their equal share of the work on the landscape. Splitting a gardener and watering is just an easier way to do this. Another option is that you could designate weeks when one person is responsible, and then alternate. Remember though that this will be subjective to each individual’s perspective of care, much as is the case with housekeeping.

  19. Michael says:

    What is the legal definition of the real estate term ‘lawn’ in OH? To a reasonable thinking person lawn and ‘yard’ are not interchangeable terms with identical definitions. A ‘yard’ conveys a sense of a field of growth (wild or otherwise), while lawn seems a unique term as a uniform growth of lawn grasses. This question applies to the question regarding ‘Maintenance of lawn’ when a lease provides no further particulars or definitions. Thanks.

    1. Michael Stone says:

      Due to the fact that our office is not licensed to practice law in any state we are unable to answer questions with regard to Landlord/Tenant or other laws or contracts including individual lease agreement questions. For assistance with these items, please contact your local attorney, fair housing authority or other tenant advocacy programs available.

  20. Michael says:

    Due to the fact that your office is not licensed to practice law in any state would seemingly relieve you from adding any legal insights, period. I see absolutely no value in this response. Just fair and balanced feedback.

  21. Vansh says:

    Live in California.

    We just went through one of the most dreadful droughts in the state and I recently moved into a new rental property. The landlord is forcing me to water her garden for her. She has set the sprinklers to run for almost 2 hours for 4 days a week and she locked the sprinkler box so I can’t control it. Considering the drought we just went through, people should be conserving water, yet my landlord is wasting the water.
    Is there a solution to my problem? Is there a way I can legally make this end?

    1. Michael Stone says:

      Due to the fact that our office is not licensed to practice law in any state we are unable to answer questions with regard to Landlord/Tenant or other laws or contracts including individual lease agreement questions. For assistance with these items, please contact your local attorney, fair housing authority or other tenant advocacy programs available.

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