Side Job: Lawncare for Out of State Neighbor/Landlord

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Topic Author
redlbj01
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:50 pm

Side Job: Lawncare for Out of State Neighbor/Landlord

Post by redlbj01 »

Hello,

Situation: My neighbor is an out of state landlord who has had experience with "bad" tenants, that has left the rentals yard in a mess (about .25 acres) full of weeds. When he was in cleaning the home and getting it ready for new tenants, we happened to talk and he asked if I would be willing to manage his yard for him since he is out of state.

Question: My question is simply, what should I charge for services? $30 per hour + cost of products/chemicals/etc was my initial thought. Has anyone had any experience with a similar situation? Anything to watch out for?

I am NOT a professional lawn expert, and frankly, am still learning much on how to enhance the look of my own lawn (it's getting there though!). I've already stated this clearly to the landlord on multiple occasions as I don’t want to mislead him. He’d rather put his trust in a "neighbor" (I'm across the street), than a local lawn company. Being that he is out of state, I have some reservations about the deal, but the extra cash (fun money) couldn’t hurt either.

Thoughts?
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CABob
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Location: Southern California

Post by CABob »

Do you have any agreement as to what is to be done? Have you made an estimate of the time you would spend on the yard? Do you know what local professional gardeners charge? Would there be a matter of a business license required on your part? Might there be any liability issues? I would suspect that the landlord would want to agree on a monthly charge rather than an hourly rate.
Bob
Topic Author
redlbj01
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:50 pm

Post by redlbj01 »

CABob wrote:Do you have any agreement as to what is to be done? Have you made an estimate of the time you would spend on the yard? Do you know what local professional gardeners charge? Would there be a matter of a business license required on your part? Might there be any liability issues? I would suspect that the landlord would want to agree on a monthly charge rather than an hourly rate.
All good questions.

(1) Agreement: Everything will be in writing, so there can be no issues of everyone's duties.

(2) Estimate of Time: Mowing would take an hour tops, I would imagine an hour for any additional chemical applications.

(3) I've done no local price analysis, but being that this is going to be a side job, with (1) customer, it's not as necessary to be price competitive. If this every turned into anything with multiple jobs, than I'd do a more thorough analysis.

(4) Not sure on the liscense, as this won't generate more than a few thousand a year. Not sure if it is necessary or not.
Tramper Al
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Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:42 am

Post by Tramper Al »

redlbj01 wrote:
CABob wrote:Do you have any agreement as to what is to be done? Have you made an estimate of the time you would spend on the yard? Do you know what local professional gardeners charge? Would there be a matter of a business license required on your part? Might there be any liability issues? I would suspect that the landlord would want to agree on a monthly charge rather than an hourly rate.
All good questions.

(1) Agreement: Everything will be in writing, so there can be no issues of everyone's duties.

(2) Estimate of Time: Mowing would take an hour tops, I would imagine an hour for any additional chemical applications.

(3) I've done no local price analysis, but being that this is going to be a side job, with (1) customer, it's not as necessary to be price competitive. If this every turned into anything with multiple jobs, than I'd do a more thorough analysis.

(4) Not sure on the liscense, as this won't generate more than a few thousand a year. Not sure if it is necessary or not.
I mowed the lawns of many of our neighbors in my teens.

I guess you could do a full market analysis, establish a licensed certified lawn care business, have a lawyer draw up the contracts and other paperwork, and so on.

Or you could just agree to mow the guy's lawn for fun money as you suggested. It sounds like you'll enjoy the view of your labors anyway. I think he likely understands you are just an ordinary neighbor guy helping him out for a little cash. And he's seen what your lawn looks like after all. If the arrangement isn't working for you at some point, just let him know.
lws6772
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Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 5:14 pm

Post by lws6772 »

I would see what the going rate was and then charge less than that. It would be a good deal for both of you and your work would be just fine. I'm pretty comfortable with verbal agreements(at least among neighbors), but you could always get a little something on paper for clarity. I say go for it. Paid to exercise, I like those deals!
So many fish, so little time.
Zippy01
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Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:50 pm

Post by Zippy01 »

We have someone do landscaping at our rental and pay $100-125 monthly. He takes care of weeds, trims things, keeps in generally from looking unkempt. We don't have grass, as we're in the desert. I have no idea how much time he's there and don't really care, as long as it's done.
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alec
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Post by alec »

we pay someone about $25/week to cut our lawn and stuff. I think our yard is about as big as your neighbors.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair
MP173
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Post by MP173 »

My 16 year old son mows several lawns in the spring - fall.

He has built up a decent little business and has learned quite a bit about customer service, quality, etc. He refers to them as his "clients". He gets phone calls from time to time from referals.

When they ask "how much will you charge?" he always smiles, turns on the charm, and replies "whatever you feel is fair."

He almost always gets overpaid (in my opinion) and always gives people more than just mowing the lawn.

He gets from $20 to $40 per lawn and none takes more than 30 minutes.

Ask them what they think is fair...and if it isnt worth it, dont take it.

Chances are you will undercharge if you quote a charge.

Ed
psteinx
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Post by psteinx »

Depending on where you are (both what part of the country and the level of income/wealth in your community), $25-30 seems about right for a basic cut of a quarter acre lawn.

The nice thing is that since its across the street, you can mow that lawn when you mow your own. That way you only fuss with getting your lawn mower and other tools out once per week or so (i.e. piggybacking on what you're probably doing for your own lawn).

If you reasonably enjoy doing outdoor work like lawnmowing, then doing one extra lawn probably won't feel like you're crossing over into "job" territory.

And you'll benefit from an improved look for your street.
grberry
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Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2007 1:16 pm
Location: Boston, MA

Post by grberry »

No comment on fees. Mowing, hedge trimming, and manual labor should not require a special license, but it might - check your state's law. Applying chemicals is much more likely to require a license when done for pay - definitely check before agreeing to do any of that.
Topic Author
redlbj01
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:50 pm

Post by redlbj01 »

grberry wrote:No comment on fees. Mowing, hedge trimming, and manual labor should not require a special license, but it might - check your state's law. Applying chemicals is much more likely to require a license when done for pay - definitely check before agreeing to do any of that.
I just emailed a contact at the state's office that handles pesticide licensing explaining the small nature of the job. Frankly if the state is going to charge me some ridiculous amount to do what I'm already doing to my own lawn, just because it’s a “business” transaction I'll just forget the whole thing...
arthurb999
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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:07 pm

Post by arthurb999 »

Most landscapers get paid cash... wouldn't worry about the state licenses to put down fertilizer.

Don't treat it as a real business. JMO

Cut the grass, get paid cash, the end.
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