Who Takes Care of the Trees – You or Your Tenants

It is up to you as the landlord to decide whether or not to include who is responsible for landscape maintenance in the lease. This is where far too many landlords go wrong and simply assume that when they rent out a single-family home the tenant assumes responsibility for the landscaping. This typically includes keeping the lawns watered, weeded, and mown. But what about the bushes and the trees on the property? Can you automatically “assume” the tenant takes on this responsibility?

The Reality

While you might be able to get away with assuming the lawn and any gardens are the responsibility of the tenant, it is typically the responsibility of the landlord to take care of the pruning. As a landlord, it is simply one of the costs of owning investment properties.

The reality is, you have no reasonable right to expect any of your tenants to climb tall ladders and put themselves at risk of serious harm trying to prune a tree. Imagine what could happen if they fall and break an arm, leg, or worse. Who becomes liable for this type of accident? Can you be sued? In the end, it is legally your responsibility. For the safety of your tenants and to protect your insurance policies and rates, you need to take care of the pruning chores yourself.

Professional Pruning Is the Only Way

But what about that majestic oak that sits in your front yard? If the pruning is done properly by a professional arborist, the cuts can only serve to enhance the natural beauty of the tree as well as any other trees and shrubs on your property. If you let one of your tenants lose on your trees and shrubs, you have no idea if they know what they are doing.

Not only can an amateur arborist turn a beautiful tree into a deformed mess. Worse than this, improper pruning methods can also lead to weakened plants that are more susceptible to disease and death.

It Gets Worse

It gets worse, according to the latest statistics, more trees are destroyed due to improper pruning methods than by insects and other pests. In the end,it is often better for the health of your trees and shrubs to let them go unpruned rather than have them hacked up and die. Do yourself a favor and take care of your trees, let your tenants simply enjoy the shade they produce.

Now that you understand the importance of making sure your trees and shrubs are properly taken care of, it’s time to decide what you include in the lease. The more detailed your lease is, the less question there can be as to who is responsible for caring for what part of the landscaping. This way, if there is any question by your tenant, you can simply refer them back to the lease. At the same time, it lets the tenant know exactly what is expected of them and what areas of the landscaping you are going to take care of, in writing.