“they will not include it in our lease because it is a ‘courtesy’ that the owner maintain the lawn”

by Prince Of Petworth June 17, 2016 at 12:55 pm 23 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a multi-unit (4) building which recently switched management companies. For the 4 years prior to this new management company, the old company maintained the shared living spaces like the front and back yards. Since the sale of our building, our yards have significantly overgrown and now resemble an unwanted and gross tangle of weeds and such resembling a jungle.

After complaining about the yards and asking for it to be explicitly written in our lease that the owner will take ownership over the maintenance of our shared lawn, the new management company– which actually is just a liaison between the tenants and the overseas owner (the owner has opted not to use their services for anything other than leasing and communicating with us)– recently informed us that they will not include it in our lease because it is a “courtesy” that the owner maintain the lawn. Is this normal, especially for multi-unit building of renters?”

  • SW 20011

    Who cares? Let the lawn grow and let the city fine the owner of the property.

    • Anon

      I think this might be the best remedy when you’re not able to speak directly to the owner

    • True. The city will send notification to the owner, If they don’t do it then, the city will, and send them a $500 fine.

  • mark

    Maintenance is always the responsibility of the property owner unless expressly written in the lease that the tenant has a duty to maintain.

    • Verbs

      But it sounds like it is in the lease…

      • Verbs

        So, it’s not even carved out of the owner’s responsibility.

      • textdoc

        It appears like the yard-maintenance issue is NOT in the lease.
        In the past, it wasn’t in the lease and the management company mowed the lawn. However, the new management company is not mowing the lawn.
        Because of this, the OP wants his/her landlord to take responsibility for mowing the lawn, and wants it to be explicitly stated in the lease. The management company is refusing to put it in the lease, so the OP is at an impasse.

  • textdoc

    I don’t know if this is “normal,” but if I were the landlord of a multi-unit building and had hired a property management company to manage it, I would expect them to maintain all of the common areas — including the lawn.
    I think Justin and JoDa each own multi-unit buildings — how do you folks handle the mowing issue?
    IMO, this is something the management company and landlord ought to be hashing out between the two of them — you shouldn’t have to be involved in it.
    If you want to, you can report the owner to DCRA for overgrown grass (although maybe that would make things worse). Maybe that would prompt the owner to take SOME kind of action — either hiring an outside lawn-mowing service, or getting the management company to mow the lawn.

    • JoDa

      I only own individual condos. Looooooow maintenance. :) But I lived in a multi-unit building when renting. Crappy landlord didn’t maintain (neither landscaping nor snow) and I did exactly your last suggestion – reported my own building to the city. The report can be anonymous. She was PO’ed, but things got cleaned up better.
      I know plenty of people in SFHs who maintain outdoor space as renters, but that’s explicitly spelled out in the lease. In a multi-unit building, you know one person would end up doing all the work even if it were in everyone’s lease, so I’d just hire a company to do it. If the yard is pretty small, simple mowing doesn’t cost much. Even the large (by city standards, and surrounding a building *much* larger than 4 units) yard at the building I live in costs under $2K/year for full landscaping (cleanups, mulching, seasonal flowers, weeding, mowing, and trimming). If I remember correctly, we accidentally were issued a draft contract for mowing only last year, and it was $1200 or so. LL needs to suck it up.

  • neighbor

    It’s the responsibility of the property owner in a multi-unit building to maintain the common spaces. I think your best recourse is to report them to DCRA.

    • DC in DC

      Why not explain to the management company that it is the responsibility of the owner (quoting chapter and verse of DCRA code) before asking DCRA to mow and fine? Increasing costs (via fines) for your landlord might bring them into compliance, but it would likely poison the relationship as well wouldn’t it?

      • TJ

        Shouldn’t the management company already know this? Why would a tenant need to explain it.

  • neighbor
    • OP

      This is SUPER helpful, thank you!!

  • LongtermME

    It’s the owners responsibility. Don’t stress yourself with this as an issue. Call 311 and report the landlord every two weeks and have DC gov’t cut the lawn. S/he will quickly find it’s cheaper to contract with a firm to mow the lawn and trim the hedges and include the cost in their taxes rather than have the government maintain the property.

    I never understand people who are penny wise and pound foolish, especially on an investment property.

    • textdoc

      You can’t report stuff to DCRA via 311, unfortunately. (I find this infuriating.) They like to restrict their reporting avenues to just one — the telephone.
      I once reported possible illegal construction (in this case, construction exceeding the scope of permit) to a general DCRA e-mail address. I received a reply 22 days later, telling me to call a certain phone number.
      The idea of taking the time to e-mail someone to say “Submit this by phone instead” is facepalm-inducing.

    • navyard

      Consider reporting it as harboring vermin.

  • niceflipflop

    How could a property management company even call themselves that without knowing the rules around this?

    • Verbs

      Please – how many good property management companies do you know?

      • Anon


    • anon

      They probably just report what the landlord says to them. I had a property management company in my last place that did that, about a different issue, that the property management company should have known about. Because it put both them, and the landlord they represented, at considerable liability, had I chosen to sue over it.
      My current landlord take the same attitude toward fixing stuff inside my apartment. As in – “oh, it broke, well I’m not required to provide it, so I’m not going to fix it” … umm, not the law here, honey.

  • Petworth Landlord

    Oh, please. Get on YELP or something and call that management company out. Or send a message to the owner that their management company is not providing the services that the owner is certainly paying for.

    I own a 4-unit and am manage it myself. The best money I spend on my building is for my neighbor to cut the grass every couple weeks. Such little money makes such a huge difference. I will add that LITTER CONTROL is my responsibility, too. Again, such a huge difference for such little effort. 5 minutes every other day.

    I rent a single family house, and that lawn is 100% mine to take care of. It’s in my lease.

  • Anonymous

    The landlord is a f#cking idiot. Lawn maintenance is a tax deduction. Ugh, such an ass.


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