Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

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Teague
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Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Teague »

Greetings all,

I live in an area where weed clearing is required for fire safety. The lots are about 2 acres each. I do my own with a riding mower which works fine. My neighbor rents, and his landlord is making him do it; he has only a walk-behind push mower. I've taken pity on this neighbor mowing his rented 2 acres this way in 100F+ weather, and occasionally let him borrow my riding mower, but I don't want this to go on forever. At some point I will refuse any further requests for my mower.

My thought is that the landlord should be responsible for weed suppression and not make that fall to the tenant. In fact, we receive an annual notice stating the property owner is responsible for abating the weed problem.

My question is, for those with experience with similar situations, would this responsibility normally fall to the land owner, or is it common to require the tenant to abate the annual weed problem? (Typically one, or in wet years two, mowings or discings are needed each year.)
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miamivice
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by miamivice »

If a landlord wants any type of landscape care and maintenance done well, the landlord takes care of it. Asking the tenant to take care of it is the same as not bothering to take care of it at all.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by TravelforFun »

Teague wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:28 pm Greetings all,

I live in an area where weed clearing is required for fire safety. The lots are about 2 acres each. I do my own with a riding mower which works fine. My neighbor rents, and his landlord is making him do it; he has only a walk-behind push mower. I've taken pity on this neighbor mowing his rented 2 acres this way in 100F+ weather, and occasionally let him borrow my riding mower, but I don't want this to go on forever. At some point I will refuse any further requests for my mower.

My thought is that the landlord should be responsible for weed suppression and not make that fall to the tenant. In fact, we receive an annual notice stating the property owner is responsible for abating the weed problem.

My question is, for those with experience with similar situations, would this responsibility normally fall to the land owner, or is it common to require the tenant to abate the annual weed problem? (Typically one, or in wet years two, mowings or discings are needed each year.)
I've seen contracts written both ways so it depends on what kind of contract they have.

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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by fortfun »

Teague wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:28 pm Greetings all,

I live in an area where weed clearing is required for fire safety. The lots are about 2 acres each. I do my own with a riding mower which works fine. My neighbor rents, and his landlord is making him do it; he has only a walk-behind push mower. I've taken pity on this neighbor mowing his rented 2 acres this way in 100F+ weather, and occasionally let him borrow my riding mower, but I don't want this to go on forever. At some point I will refuse any further requests for my mower.

My thought is that the landlord should be responsible for weed suppression and not make that fall to the tenant. In fact, we receive an annual notice stating the property owner is responsible for abating the weed problem.

My question is, for those with experience with similar situations, would this responsibility normally fall to the land owner, or is it common to require the tenant to abate the annual weed problem? (Typically one, or in wet years two, mowings or discings are needed each year.)
If it is in the lease agreement, the landlord can probably require the tenant to mow the weed patch.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by mhalley »

This is up to the tenant. He has a couple options when the lease is up
1. Ask for ll to takeover clearing weeds
2. Offer to continue clearing weeds in exchange for the ll buying a riding mower vs a decrease in rent.
3. Maintain status quo
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by adamthesmythe »

What does the lease say?

That's all that matters.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by mervinj7 »

adamthesmythe wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:31 pm What does the lease say?

That's all that matters.
+1 I'm a landlord as well. My lease says I'm responsible for the garden. That's all.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by miamivice »

fortfun wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:34 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:28 pm Greetings all,

I live in an area where weed clearing is required for fire safety. The lots are about 2 acres each. I do my own with a riding mower which works fine. My neighbor rents, and his landlord is making him do it; he has only a walk-behind push mower. I've taken pity on this neighbor mowing his rented 2 acres this way in 100F+ weather, and occasionally let him borrow my riding mower, but I don't want this to go on forever. At some point I will refuse any further requests for my mower.

My thought is that the landlord should be responsible for weed suppression and not make that fall to the tenant. In fact, we receive an annual notice stating the property owner is responsible for abating the weed problem.

My question is, for those with experience with similar situations, would this responsibility normally fall to the land owner, or is it common to require the tenant to abate the annual weed problem? (Typically one, or in wet years two, mowings or discings are needed each year.)
If it is in the lease agreement, the landlord can probably require the tenant to mow the weed patch.
And what practical options does the landlord have if the tenant doesn't get around to mowing the weed patch?
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by JPH »

Renters usually mow their own lawns. How is this different?
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Winston19 »

By contract it is the tenant but the landlord is ultimately responsible to the city if the tenant doesn't do it since he is the property owner.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by JPH »

I doubt that this would work on a 2 acre lot, but I'll mention it anyway. My nephew, who is a farmer, will mow vacant lots and just take the hay as payment.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Turbo29 »

If it was for fire safety and the tenant did not do it and a fire started and got out of control, I would think the owner might be liable.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Mordoch »

miamivice wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:40 pm And what practical options does the landlord have if the tenant doesn't get around to mowing the weed patch?
An eventual answer at least would be eviction. Admittedly this might not be a desirable answer for the landlord and especially depending on the area there might be scrutiny of this justification especially without allot of documentation that the tenant had been notified of the problem and had been given allot of time to fix things, but it is an owner solution to a tenant not complying with lease terms.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by smitcat »

miamivice wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:40 pm
fortfun wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:34 pm
Teague wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:28 pm Greetings all,

I live in an area where weed clearing is required for fire safety. The lots are about 2 acres each. I do my own with a riding mower which works fine. My neighbor rents, and his landlord is making him do it; he has only a walk-behind push mower. I've taken pity on this neighbor mowing his rented 2 acres this way in 100F+ weather, and occasionally let him borrow my riding mower, but I don't want this to go on forever. At some point I will refuse any further requests for my mower.

My thought is that the landlord should be responsible for weed suppression and not make that fall to the tenant. In fact, we receive an annual notice stating the property owner is responsible for abating the weed problem.

My question is, for those with experience with similar situations, would this responsibility normally fall to the land owner, or is it common to require the tenant to abate the annual weed problem? (Typically one, or in wet years two, mowings or discings are needed each year.)
If it is in the lease agreement, the landlord can probably require the tenant to mow the weed patch.
And what practical options does the landlord have if the tenant doesn't get around to mowing the weed patch?
Have it mowed and bill the tenant.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Sandtrap »

It's unknown what the tenant/landlord lease agreement states about this matter.

Perhaps the tenant agreed to mow it for a reduction in rent or exchange of services.

Unknown.
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Last edited by Sandtrap on Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Arbol
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Arbol »

I'm a landlord. A city landlord so I don't have 2 acres to take care of. From my experience, tenants will not take care of a yard. I have a gardener for all my rentals.

The landlord is ultimately responsible. Doesn't matter what the lease says because the landlord is ultimately responsible if there is a fire, code violation, etc. The authority is not going to put a lien on the tenant, it's gonna be on the property and the owner of record.

In general, I would not expect a tenant to mow a 2 acre lot.

If the lease does not state, then it's up to the landlord. (Take care of your . . . . You wanted to be a landlord.)

If the lease does state that the tenant takes care of the yard, then the landlord has a tenant violation and should handle accordingly under the local landlord/tenant laws.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Kenkat »

Agree that the lease is key. If the lease does not address the topic, it gets into the grey area but I would think it more likely would fall to the landlord / property owner as they are generally responsible for maintaining the property in the absence of a specific agreement in the lease.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by renue74 »

Been landlording for 7 years. In that time, I only had one good tenant who kept his lawn pristine.

In my lease agreement, I do require renters to cut the lawn. Beyond that, I don't really care as most of the houses I own don't have flower beds or decorative grasses.

Occasionally, I'll get a notice from the city about a rental and I will aggressively contact the tenant multiple times to make sure they cut the lawn. 100% of the time that's been my go to for motivation. I'll call them and text them until it's cut. Most are really good about cutting.

In this case, the lease agreement is important.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by 8foot7 »

In my rental the HOA took care of yardwork. In another rental we looked at, the rent was about $100/mo higher than market but the yardwork and water bill were included in rent so it was essentially maintenance-free. The landlord had a service that came out year round to take care of things.

For some of the postage stamp lots you get around here these days, I can see it being reasonable that a landlord require the tenant to mow the grass. A $50 used push mower and thirty minutes a week can usually keep most of these very small lots at least cut, if not edged and blown.

As a potential tenant I would never sign a market-rate lease on a place with a two acre lot that required me to mow it if the landlord didn't provide adequate tools like a riding lawnmower. It would take hours on a push mower to mow two acres, and a riding lawnmower/tractor can be close to a thousand dollars. I don't find that reasonable, especially since the benefit accrues to the property owner, not the tenant.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by abuss368 »

Teague wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:28 pm Greetings all,

I live in an area where weed clearing is required for fire safety. The lots are about 2 acres each. I do my own with a riding mower which works fine. My neighbor rents, and his landlord is making him do it; he has only a walk-behind push mower. I've taken pity on this neighbor mowing his rented 2 acres this way in 100F+ weather, and occasionally let him borrow my riding mower, but I don't want this to go on forever. At some point I will refuse any further requests for my mower.

My thought is that the landlord should be responsible for weed suppression and not make that fall to the tenant. In fact, we receive an annual notice stating the property owner is responsible for abating the weed problem.

My question is, for those with experience with similar situations, would this responsibility normally fall to the land owner, or is it common to require the tenant to abate the annual weed problem? (Typically one, or in wet years two, mowings or discings are needed each year.)
I would expect all maintenance should be documented in lease agreement.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by abuss368 »

Have you also considered asking the neighbor to share in the cost of the riding mower? May work all the way around.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Arbol »

If I was renting, there is no way I would spend over a $1000 on a riding lawnmower. Never gonna happen.

There are certain realities to being a landlord. One is that the tenant will not take care of the yard.

IMHO, it's not reasonable to expect a renter to spend a large sum of money to maintain the landlord's yard.

Being a landlord is a job. It's not a truly passive investment. You gotta know how people behave and what work you really need to be responsible for.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Teague »

So I've just asked the tenant what the lease says. Apparently the landlord and tenant split the cost of an annual "tractoring" (mow or disc.) And that does get done annually. The problem is that is usually insufficient and another mowing often needs to be done in early summer, and usually some extra touch-ups through the year. There is apparently no language in the lease covering this extra mowing, other than the usual "tenant shall maintain leased property in good order" or words to that effect. Which I wouldn't interpret as keeping two acres mowed, but I don't know anything about landlording. If it matters, this is essentially 2 acres of range land, rolling terrain, dry and dusty summer thru fall, uneven, some rocks, lots of holes from ground squirrels. Not so easy to maintain even with a riding mower; a tractor with disc or field mower is really the right tool. A push mower, well, is just silly, but God bless that neighbor, he gets out there gives it his best shot.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by SmileyFace »

Teague wrote: Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:40 pm So I've just asked the tenant what the lease says. Apparently the landlord and tenant split the cost of an annual "tractoring" (mow or disc.) And that does get done annually. The problem is that is usually insufficient and another mowing often needs to be done in early summer, and usually some extra touch-ups through the year. There is apparently no language in the lease covering this extra mowing, other than the usual "tenant shall maintain leased property in good order" or words to that effect. Which I wouldn't interpret as keeping two acres mowed, but I don't know anything about landlording. If it matters, this is essentially 2 acres of range land, rolling terrain, dry and dusty summer thru fall, uneven, some rocks, lots of holes from ground squirrels. Not so easy to maintain even with a riding mower; a tractor with disc or field mower is really the right tool. A push mower, well, is just silly, but God bless that neighbor, he gets out there gives it his best shot.
Sounds like he could be beating the #$%! out of your mower!
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by smitcat »

Teague wrote: Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:40 pm So I've just asked the tenant what the lease says. Apparently the landlord and tenant split the cost of an annual "tractoring" (mow or disc.) And that does get done annually. The problem is that is usually insufficient and another mowing often needs to be done in early summer, and usually some extra touch-ups through the year. There is apparently no language in the lease covering this extra mowing, other than the usual "tenant shall maintain leased property in good order" or words to that effect. Which I wouldn't interpret as keeping two acres mowed, but I don't know anything about landlording. If it matters, this is essentially 2 acres of range land, rolling terrain, dry and dusty summer thru fall, uneven, some rocks, lots of holes from ground squirrels. Not so easy to maintain even with a riding mower; a tractor with disc or field mower is really the right tool. A push mower, well, is just silly, but God bless that neighbor, he gets out there gives it his best shot.
I think you know what you have been told about a lease that is between two other parties.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Arbol »

Since the lease is silent (or ambiguous), then it's the landlord's responsibility.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Teague »

DaftInvestor wrote: Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:43 pm
Teague wrote: Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:40 pm So I've just asked the tenant what the lease says. Apparently the landlord and tenant split the cost of an annual "tractoring" (mow or disc.) And that does get done annually. The problem is that is usually insufficient and another mowing often needs to be done in early summer, and usually some extra touch-ups through the year. There is apparently no language in the lease covering this extra mowing, other than the usual "tenant shall maintain leased property in good order" or words to that effect. Which I wouldn't interpret as keeping two acres mowed, but I don't know anything about landlording. If it matters, this is essentially 2 acres of range land, rolling terrain, dry and dusty summer thru fall, uneven, some rocks, lots of holes from ground squirrels. Not so easy to maintain even with a riding mower; a tractor with disc or field mower is really the right tool. A push mower, well, is just silly, but God bless that neighbor, he gets out there gives it his best shot.
Sounds like he could be beating the #$%! out of your mower!
Heh, yes, a very valid concern. I had to instruct him that mowing at 1/2 inch height was really not appropriate, even that's what the notice from the fire department states. Nobody actually mows at that height. This is much more Little House on the Prairie than the 9th green at Pebble Beach. Now that I've got him mowing at 3-4 inches, I think things are ok. The mower is a 15 year old Deere (tough old thang, that mower) and I've got a newer one as well. He doesn't get to borrow the new one.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by c_e_UofU »

*Not a lawyer, but did just take a few law classes last semester*

My understanding is that when things are vague like that in contracts it serves as a catch-all statement that allows the landlord to make up rules as he goes. Would that be legally enforceable in court? Maybe. Does that mean he can still ask/expect it to get done under the terms of his vague contract statement? Yes. If it falls under the terms of what can be reasonably interpreted as "maintained leased property in good order" he would probably have the grounds to tell a judge "he let the lot get overrun with weeds and did nothing about it despite my telling him to" if he ever wanted to evict him (would be a real petty thing to do, but he could).

That's my understanding of it from 3 entry level business law classes on contracts any way. Only got a B+ though so take this with a grain of salt :happy
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (landlord / tenant responsibilities).

c_e_UofU, Welcome!
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Arbol »

Lawyer and landlord.

Oh, I love law students. There's the law and there's is the reality of practicing law, running a business, and life.

Good luck getting in front of a judge in a timely manner. It can take over a year to go through small claims court.

Good luck collecting after winning in small claims court.

Unless the lease specifies that the tenant is specifically responsible for certain actions, then forget about it.

Harassing a tenant's quiet enjoyment and a wrongful eviction would end poorly for the landlord.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Trader Joe »

Teague wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:28 pm Greetings all,

I live in an area where weed clearing is required for fire safety. The lots are about 2 acres each. I do my own with a riding mower which works fine. My neighbor rents, and his landlord is making him do it; he has only a walk-behind push mower. I've taken pity on this neighbor mowing his rented 2 acres this way in 100F+ weather, and occasionally let him borrow my riding mower, but I don't want this to go on forever. At some point I will refuse any further requests for my mower.

My thought is that the landlord should be responsible for weed suppression and not make that fall to the tenant. In fact, we receive an annual notice stating the property owner is responsible for abating the weed problem.

My question is, for those with experience with similar situations, would this responsibility normally fall to the land owner, or is it common to require the tenant to abate the annual weed problem? (Typically one, or in wet years two, mowings or discings are needed each year.)
This is always the owners responsibility, unless the fully executed lease agreement says otherwise. Best of luck.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by c_e_UofU »

Thanks for the welcome!

And like I said, not a lawyer. I just took a few law classes for my business degree.

Everything I said is just to address the question of who technically has responsibility.

I agree though. Reality is it would only ever be a small claims issue, if for any reason somebody wanted to pursue it to that length.

I'm just saying if the landlord were being unreasonable and tried to say "do it or I'll evict" I believe he has enough to make a case for the eviction, but I'm also just hoping the landlord isn't that uptight.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by PeterParker »

My dad's a landlord and I'm a frequent renter.
I'm not a lawyer but I would assume the following:

The rules differ based on state and municipal laws. Duh. And knee-jerk assumptions which are usually self-serving (of course I'm not responsible!) are meaningless.

If you're a landlord: Specifically put in the lease and have the tenant initial the statement. Problem solved. Duh.

Smarter landlord: Tell them the rent is $50 more a month with the landscaping services. But you'll offer a discount of $50 a month contigent on them doing their own landscaping services.

Now they don't think they're getting shafted; they think they're getting a deal!

The law in most cases is odd. I remember I lived in a duplex (so two different renting parties with separate units) and we had the same landlord. We had about 4 feet of steps going to the front door of both units.

Who would shovel snow for it? One of us renters? Both? The landlord? Turns out according to Chicago law, it's a "shared responsibility." If you know anything about psychology, you know what that means. No one does it until the LandLord is afraid of getting sued and ends up doing it.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Arbol »

PeterParker wrote: Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:27 pm My dad's a landlord and I'm a frequent renter.
I'm not a lawyer but I would assume the following:

The rules differ based on state and municipal laws. Duh. And knee-jerk assumptions which are usually self-serving (of course I'm not responsible!) are meaningless.

If you're a landlord: Specifically put in the lease and have the tenant initial the statement. Problem solved. Duh.

Smarter landlord: Tell them the rent is $50 more a month with the landscaping services. But you'll offer a discount of $50 a month contigent on them doing their own landscaping services.

Now they don't think they're getting shafted; they think they're getting a deal!

The law in most cases is odd. I remember I lived in a duplex (so two different renting parties with separate units) and we had the same landlord. We had about 4 feet of steps going to the front door of both units.

Who would shovel snow for it? One of us renters? Both? The landlord? Turns out according to Chicago law, it's a "shared responsibility." If you know anything about psychology, you know what that means. No one does it until the LandLord is afraid of getting sued and ends up doing it.
Uncle Ben and Aunt May would be proud.

Winner. Winner. Chicken dinner.

Who gets sued if there is a fire? Everybody.

Who has more to lose? The landlord who is probably insured or a renter who is unlikely to have renter's insurance?

Who should be responsible? Duh.

It would be wise of the landlord to look out for his/her best interest rather than rely on a tenant.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by clip651 »

To the OP - one possible solution, if you are willing to do the mowing, but don't want to be taken advantage of here, is to offer to take care of it for a fair rate ($X per year, perhaps, with annual re-agreement of some sort, so you aren't stuck doing it forever if you don't want to). You could offer this to the landlord, or to the tenant, depending on who is responsible (and willing to pay you). Or perhaps offer to sell your older riding mower to your neighbor (the tenant). If this is truly a fire risk, it's to your advantage that it is looked after one way or another, even though you aren't actually responsible for that property at all. You've been very nice by helping your neighbor.

Anyway, just a couple of ideas. Let us know how it goes.

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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by 123 »

I grew up in an area where this requirement was common since residential properties were usually on 1 to 10 acre parcels. Due to the climate it was strictly a weed abatement issue to reduce fire hazards, there was no hay that could be harvested etc.

The fire department, after a drive-by inspection, posted notices on properties that needed weed abatement, with a requirement that the abatement be completed in (I think) 14 days. If the owner did not complete the task the city had a contractor do the work (usually using a tractor with a disc) and then the city would charge the property owner for the work. If the owner did not pay the liability got added to their property tax.

Typically on the Saturday after the properties were posted by the fire department a man would come buy with a tractor and disc offering to take care of the problem property for a fee. It usually took 1/2 to 2 hours to clear a property, on large properties a "cross hatch" pattern was permissable in lieu of discing the entire expanse.

Under this scenario it would be the property owner that bears the responsibility. If the landlord comes to some understanding with the tenant that is a separate deal, the city would still go after the property owner.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by rj342 »

Disagree with some of the answers saying landlord should do it (state laws could vary I suppose).
It is perfectly common here for modest rental homes for the lease to require the renter to do basic yard maintenance.

Agree an environmental court might go after the owner, although issues like tenant's junk on the side of the road too long (stuff city cant handle) should be on the occupant (on owner if vacant).
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Teague
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Teague »

clip651 wrote: Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:44 pm To the OP - one possible solution, if you are willing to do the mowing, but don't want to be taken advantage of here, is to offer to take care of it for a fair rate ($X per year, perhaps, with annual re-agreement of some sort, so you aren't stuck doing it forever if you don't want to). You could offer this to the landlord, or to the tenant, depending on who is responsible (and willing to pay you). Or perhaps offer to sell your older riding mower to your neighbor (the tenant). If this is truly a fire risk, it's to your advantage that it is looked after one way or another, even though you aren't actually responsible for that property at all. You've been very nice by helping your neighbor.

Anyway, just a couple of ideas. Let us know how it goes.

cj
As you note, due to the fire risk, this neighbor's problem is very much my problem if the lots don't get adequately mowed. Anyone who has lived in this area more than a few years will mow regularly no matter what the fire department requires - every year a house or two goes up in flames and folks would prefer to avoid that. This year the weeds (mostly tall wild grass) were an average of maybe 2.5 feet tall, over 5 feet in some areas. Once summer hits it may burn even if mowed, but slowly enough that the fire department can get there in time. Hopefully one has a completely cleared area around their house. All it takes is a carelessly discarded cigarette or dragging trailer chain along a road, which happens all the time. I've seen 3 areas around here so far this summer where fires started at the roadside, no homes involved, just pasture land where the grass had been shortened by spring grazing, fortunately. If left at its natural height the wild grass would almost instantly become a blazing inferno, like the prairie fires of old western movies.
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five2one
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by five2one »

Why is this becoming "a thing"?

It is extremely simple.

ASSuming the lease is written properly for state and local laws, the tenant is either responsible or the landlord or somewhere in between.
If you want to dip your toes in the issues then have at it but no complaining when you drown...busted mower.

Everything else is "below the line".
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by dm200 »

adamthesmythe wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:31 pm What does the lease say?

That's all that matters.
My opinion, as well. That issue, in my opinion, would be subject to change or negotiated, at the end of the lease period if the tenant and the landlord want to continue the lease.
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Teague
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Teague »

five2one wrote: Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:16 pm Why is this becoming "a thing"?
Mainly because I'm not a fan of raging conflagrations in close proximity to my house, and want to do what I can to keep the neighbor''s lot mowed during fire season. I'm exploring the best way to do this, whether it be loaning out my mower, giving appropriate advice to the tenant, or communicating directly with the (absentee) landlord.
It is extremely simple.

ASSuming the lease is written properly for state and local laws, the tenant is either responsible or the landlord or somewhere in between.
If you want to dip your toes in the issues then have at it but no complaining when you drown...busted mower.
Who said anything about complaining? As noted above , this in an older mower I'm letting the renter borrow. I fully expect it to break at some point. All parts are replaceable. I have another, newer, mower that I reserve for my own use, again as outlined above.
Everything else is "below the line".
Not really sure what that means in this context.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by tadamsmar »

Teague wrote: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:28 pm I live in an area where weed clearing is required for fire safety.
If it's required by law or regulation, then you could just inform the governing body responsible for enforcement.

You don't need to know who (landlord or tenant) is responsible. You are asking the wrong question.

Or, you can just continue to mow the property. In that case, you are taking on someone else's legal responsibility. Who that someone is, tenant or landlord, is an academic question. No point in asking the question.

If you don't want to contact the authorities, then write a letter to the landlord explaining that the fire safety requirements are not being met. I am sure he is the one who is responsible for solving this problem. He will either enforce the rental contract or do it himself or provide a mower for the tenant. If he is not responsive then contact the authorities.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by Spirit Rider »

rj342 wrote: Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:52 pm Disagree with some of the answers saying landlord should do it (state laws could vary I suppose).
It is perfectly common here for modest rental homes for the lease to require the renter to do basic yard maintenance.
If you read the thread, you would know as indicated by the OP, this is not "basic yard maintenance". Also, you would know the lease is silent on whose responsibility this is.

In most states, if this was brought to court either through an eviction process or small claims, a judge would probably use a reasonable and customary standard. Without specific language in the lease, it is unlikely that the tenet would be held to clearing 2 acres.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by tadamsmar »

The OP does not need the answer to his question.

I was a landlord. If a neighbor had a problem with a situation on the property, then they contacted me and I addressed the problem. If I had the contractual power to get someone else to clear up the matter, then I could exercise that power to solve the problem.

The authorities would enforce the mowing requirement by contacting the property owner. They would not launch an investigation into the nature of a landlord's contract with a tenant.
Last edited by tadamsmar on Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:52 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by FS51 »

As a reluctant landlord, I have very clear language about responsibility of the yard. I know full well anything I rely on the renters to take care of will likely not be done to my liking or done at all. I have my current renter doing his own mowing, snow removal and fall cleanups. I, however, on top of this just had the beds cleaned up (mulched, trimmed back, etc) and have the lawn serviced 4-6x per year to keep the yard looking halfway decent.

I would think because this weed removal is by law and is not specifically mentioned in the lease, the onus would fall on the landlord. I think even if it was specified in the lease, while it would be the renters responsibility, the liability would still ultimately fall on the landlord as he/she is property owner. The renter is in violation of the lease but that doesn't supercede the law of having to have these weeds removed for fire hazard reasons.

Just my .02
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by tadamsmar »

A statement by a Sonoma County fire marshall:
“Maintaining defensible space is the responsibility of the property owner,” he said.
https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9632 ... al?sba=AAS

I suspect that it is the same everywhere.
Last edited by tadamsmar on Sun Jul 28, 2019 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by HomeStretch »

Teague wrote: Sat Jul 27, 2019 6:33 pm Mainly because I'm not a fan of raging conflagrations in close proximity to my house, and want to do what I can to keep the neighbor''s lot mowed during fire season. I'm exploring the best way to do this, whether it be loaning out my mower, giving appropriate advice to the tenant, or communicating directly with the (absentee) landlord.
You are a proactive homeowner and a good neighbor to loan your mower to a tenant who, lucky for you, seems responsible.

Perhaps the absentee landlord is unaware of the need for more than an annual landlord-provided mowing to mitigate fire risk. Especially if the next tenant is not as responsible or doesn’t have access to a lawnmower. A direct communication (perhaps with pictures) to discuss this with landlord sounds appropriate. He could contract out for xx number of mowings per year and raise the rent to cover it.

If the landlord isn’t receptive to your call, perhaps the local fire department would send him a (friendly) follow up letter advising that the property needs to be mowed every xx weeks to mitigate fire risk.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by adamthesmythe »

FS51 wrote: Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:40 am I would think because this weed removal is by law and is not specifically mentioned in the lease, the onus would fall on the landlord. I think even if it was specified in the lease, while it would be the renters responsibility, the liability would still ultimately fall on the landlord as he/she is property owner. The renter is in violation of the lease but that doesn't supercede the law of having to have these weeds removed for fire hazard reasons.

Just my .02
There are two obligations here. The tenant has an obligation to do whatever is required by the lease. The owner has an obligation to the city, county, etc. to maintain his property.

Suppose the tenant IS obligated to mow the property, and he doesn't. If a fire happens the owner can try to recover from the tenant. In many cases the tenant has few assets and maybe no useful insurance.

The owner is likely to have a loss (perhaps mitigated by his own insurance). The owner could also be liable for damage to neighboring properties, again possibly mitigated by insurance.

The thing is- tenants may not care very much because they have little to lose.
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by dru808 »

How much or is it possible to just clear the land with a weed killer and mow after weeds are dead?
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Re: Weed clearing: Landlord vs. tenant responsibility?

Post by tadamsmar »

Teague wrote: Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:40 pm So I've just asked the tenant what the lease says. Apparently the landlord and tenant split the cost of an annual "tractoring" (mow or disc.) And that does get done annually. The problem is that is usually insufficient and another mowing often needs to be done in early summer, and usually some extra touch-ups through the year.
Seems that you don't know if there is anything for anyone to be responsible for. They do an annual cleanup. You say it is insufficient. How do you know that it is insufficient? The local fire marshall would have to do an inspection to determine insufficiency.
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