Can A Landlord Charge For Dead Grass? (Find Out Now!)
It is often overwhelming to return an apartment to its original state upon moving out. Making sure everything is back in order and clean is daunting. It may be particularly frustrating then, when you have finished cleaning the house and notice the lawn is dead. This begs the question, “Can a landlord charge me for dead grass?”
There are several circumstances where a landlord can charge you for dead grass. If the lease states place you in charge of lawn maintenance you may be charged. When you neglect the grass, or are an active participant in killing it you may be found liable. Be sure to inspect your lease to find out who is in charge of the lawn. Contact your landlord any time you notice problems with the lawn or landscaping.
Check Your Lease
If your landlord is threatening to charge you for dead grass the first place you should look is your lease. There are many reasons grass can die, but first you should determine who was responsible for the upkeep.
What is the “Rental Premises”
When you sign a lease agreement, the document pertains to the “rental premises.” This may seem like an afterthought when you sign the lease. However, the exact domain covered in the lease can become critical in disputes.
Inspect your lease to confirm whether or not the lawn is included in your lease. Some leases include mention of the lawn and yard. If the lease is specific only to the interior, you may not be responsible for the lawn.
Note: Keep in mind this this would likely also mean you don’t have use or exclusive
Mention Of Landscape Maintenance
If your landlord has entrusted you with any form of landscape maintenance it should be laid out in the rental agreement. Details, including watering and plant upkeep should be included in your rental agreement. If there is no mention of this upkeep then you should not be held accountable for those duties.
Is There an HOA
If you are renting a dwelling with an HOA be sure to review its policies as well. You may be responsible for yard upkeep if your lease explains you must abide by all the rules set forth by the HOA. This does not mean you are necessarily responsible for maintaining the lawn, but it is a list of rules you must follow while living within the community.
If you move into an area with an HOA you should carefully review the HOA guidelines and confirm what is expected of you as a resident of that community.
Determine The Root Cause
If you are wondering whether or not a landlord can charge you for dead grass you need to determine what caused the death. There are several circumstances that are out of your control. Several others, however, may have been preventable. You can be found liable if you caused the problem or could have easily prevented the grass from dying.
In this day and age, extreme weather has become more common than ever. If you live in an area that has been directly impacted by extreme weather conditions your grass may have suffered as a result.
Extreme hot and dry temperatures are one way too quickly a lawn. If you live in an area that has suffered from unseasonable drought and/or heat then the dead grass may not be your fault. If you have done all you can to maintain the lawn then your landlord should not charge you.
It is no secret that many pests exist. Grubs, worms and even some rodents can completely destroy your lawn. Sometimes even when you treat your lawn for pests you can still find your grass ruined by other insects or rodents.
Pests are not your fault. It may, however, be your responsibility to inform the landlord as soon as you notice a pest issue. If you notice evidence of moles, insects or other grass killers you should always contact your landlord. This allows your landlord to fix the issue. Your landlord may accuse you of neglect if you wait until the lawn is completely destroyed before mentioning anything.
Neglect is another reason a lawn dies. Whether it is a lack of mowing, fertilizing or watering – a neglected lawn may die. The lease is often King when you are trying to determine who is at fault for dead grass when neglect is the cause.
Tip: Contact the landlord even if the lease states the lawn is not your responsibility. Send an official letter expressing your concern over the state of the lawn. This will help limit your liability.
Pets, Parking, or People
Sometimes you or those around you are the reason there is dead grass. Large pets can dig holes in the lawn and their feces, unmanaged, can kill grass. If you park a car, boat or camper over grass and leave it then the grass will likely die. Above ground pools, lawn furniture and playsets can also ruin grass.
If grass has died because of something you caused then you may be charged for the replacement of the grass. One way to prevent this is to remove the items months before you move out. Use the last few months to revitalize the dead area and bring the grass (or new grass) back to life.
Did You Tell The Landlord?
Communication is critical when it comes to any issue in a home. A small drip from a faucet can result in massive water damage if left unchecked. Similarly, if you do not inform your landlord when you notice the lawn deteriorating, it may die.
Be sure to contact your landlord using traceable communication. Document the problem when you notice it and inform the landlord. This will help the landlord understand the gravity of the problem. This will also help limit your liability if the grass dies. It shows you made active attempts to help the problem.
Did You Have Tools and Instructions?
Even if your landlord has made it clear in the lease you are in charge of the lawn this does not mean you need to be a landscape expert. Your landlord should provide you with a watering and/or maintenance schedule.
If your landlord has particular sprinklers or lawn equipment for the lawn then they should be provided for you. When nothing is provided you should contact your landlord before purchasing any equipment out of pocket. If watering the grass is causing excessive water usage you should communicate this with the landlord as well.
If the lawn needs to be treated and fertilized your landlord should inform you. It is not your job to be a mind reader. Just as you should inform your landlord if you notice a problem, your landlord should inform you of how to avoid problems.
Do I Need To Mow The Lawn If I Rent?
Lawn care can be the responsibility of the landlord or tenant. The rental agreement will determine who is responsible for lawn care in your specific case. Be sure to understand the lease carefully. Sometimes the landlord may hire an outside company to do basic landscaping. Normally this would include things like lawn mowing and tree trimming.Just because your landlord has hired a company for this does not mean you may not still be responsible for lawn care. Be sure to confirm with your landlord whether or not you are responsible for weeding, watering, or fertilizing.
Can My Landlord Do Gardening In My Yard Without Notice?
Normally your landlord cannot enter your yard or home without advanced notice. Before you confront your landlord, you should check your lease. There may be information stating your landlord may require access to the lawn regularly for landscaping purposes. Also, confirm that your lease includes the yard. Be sure the yard is, in fact, your property and not shared. If the yard is included in the lease the landlord must give you proper notice before coming into your yard. This time frame varies from state to state so be sure to check your local laws.
Can A Landscaping Company Mow My Lawn At Any Time?
Normally, landscaping companies can not perform their lawn mowing and landscaping at any hour of the day. Most towns and municipalities have rules in regards to lawn care and noise in general. The most common standards seem to be no earlier than 8 or 9 a.m. There are also laws on how late they can mow – although often darkness prevents landscapers from mowing lawns too late at night. Tip: Be sure the rules in your area are the same on the weekends as they are during weekdays.
The Wrap Up
If the grass on your lawn dies you may wonder if your landlord can charge you to replace it. Before this becomes an issue, remember to communicate. The sooner you let your landlord know about dying grass, or any problem, the faster it can be solved. When you catch a problem early it is often a much cheaper fix.
If your landlord is threatening to charge you for dead grass, check your lease. Determine the root cause of the dead grass. Often the cause is outside your control. If you are to blame for the dead grass you may have to pay to replace it. Do your best to bring the grass back to life before you move out to avoid the charge.
Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.
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