Nearly every time I speak to someone new to the Indianapolis market or someone who is a new Landlord, the issue of landscaping comes up.
Most of these Landlords, it seems, don’t understand who is responsible for landscaping.
So today, I thought I would spend some time answering the question:
What Landscaping Should My Tenant Do?
The simple answer is - it all depends on your lease.
First, I’ll start by noting that in Indiana, most single family homes have yards with grass. Mowing, at least in Indiana, is the biggest part of landscaping.
For example, you probably only need to lay mulch once a year, or trim bushes and pull weeds a few times a year.
In Indiana, the grass growing season can start as early as April and go through November in some cases. And during most of that season, the grass will need mowed every week.
So, it’s a big concern.
Property maintenance costs and prevention is one of the most widely discussed topics among landlords.
Normal Landscaping Expectations for Indianapolis Tenants
- Mowing - Generally, Tenants in single family homes in Indianapolis expect to mow their yard. It’s a common expectation and, as a result, our lease contains the requirement for the Tenant to regularly mow the grass.
- Trimming Bushes/Shrubs - Our lease also requires Tenants to trim bushes and shrubs.
- Weed removal in landscaped areas - Finally, we require our Tenants to pull any weeds in landscaped areas.
Normal Landscaping Expectations for Indianapolis Landlords
While leases obviously vary, Landlords can be expected to perform the following landscaping:
- Yard Fertilization - It’s a good idea to contract a yard service to conduct at least a one-time yard weed treatment and fertilization. This is normally done during Spring. Some Landlords even opt for a multiple treatment system where the yard service will treat the grass up to five times per year.
- Mulch - If mulch is required for the home, this is typically a Landlord responsibility. Like fertilization, most Tenants would object to spending money on a property that isn't theirs.
- Tree Trimming - Unlike bush or shrubs, Landlords are generally required to trim trees whenever that’s necessary. Tree trimming, depending on the size of the tree, can be dangerous, so Landlords want to avoid any potential liability issues.
- Gutter Cleaning - While not a direct landscaping issue, gutter cleaning is also a Landlord responsibility. As a Landlord, you do not want your Tenant on ladders or on roofs. Again, it’s too much liability.
Enforcing Landscaping Responsibilities
Obviously, it’s not practical to place cameras on the property to ensure the yard is being maintained. However, every Spring, and throughout the warm season, we will receive notices from either the City of Indianapolis or individual HOAs (Homeowners Association) that a yard needs mowed.
In those cases, we send the Tenant a lease violation notice and require photo evidence that the violation has been corrected.
Generally speaking, enforcing these responsibilities is not difficult.
Offering Landscaping as Part of Your Lease
Now, occasionally I’m asked if including all landscaping in the lease is a good idea.
This question generally comes from someone who wants to ensure that their yard is maintained at a very high level. It could be that they plan to return and live in the home some day, or they are in a very nice neighborhood and they want to avoid any issues with the HOA.
The answer is sure.
For some Tenants, having all landscaping included can be a tremendous benefit and, in nearly all cases, you should be able to charge more rent for including landscaping.
If you have any questions about Landscaping or investing in the Central Indiana market, please do not hesitate to contact me.