Owning a rental property comes with its own set of challenges, one of which includes ensuring that your tenants maintain the yard. In Texas, the TAR Residential Lease is the most common lease agreement and obligates the tenant to take care of the yard. So, what happens when the tenant neglects this duty?
Understanding Yard Maintenance Responsibilities:
The Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) Residential Lease, commonly used in Texas, delineates specific guidelines regarding yard maintenance in Paragraph 17, Section B. The term “yard” encompasses all outdoor vegetation and landscaping elements. Tenants are typically required to engage in activities like mowing, fertilizing, trimming, controlling pests and weeds, and debris removal.
One sticking point that often arises is the watering of the yard. Tenants might skimp on this to cut down on utility costs, not realizing that inadequate watering can cause significant damage to the landscaping. This negligence can lead to exorbitant replacement costs, often surpassing any security deposit the tenant might have made.
When HOAs Step In:
Additionally, properties under homeowners’ associations (HOAs) are subject to community standards. If a tenant neglects yard maintenance, the landlord might receive violation notices from the HOA, sometimes accompanied by fines.
Paragraph 17, Section E of the TAR lease allows landlords to undertake necessary yard maintenance themselves and then charge the tenant for the incurred expenses plus any administrative fees. This charge is not just for the direct costs but also for the inconvenience of coordinating these services.
Further, if the tenant defaults on their obligations, landlords can invoke the provisions outlined in Paragraph 27, the lease’s general default section. These stipulations allow the landlord to take several actions, including termination of the tenant’s occupancy rights, acceleration of rent payments, and enforcement of a landlord’s lien, among others.
Applying Funds and Possible Eviction:
In extreme cases, there’s another recourse for landlords outlined in Paragraph 8 of the TAR lease. Landlords can apply payments intended as rent to cover the expenses of yard maintenance, consequently leaving an outstanding rent balance. This strategy can ultimately lead to the eviction of particularly troublesome tenants for nonpayment of rent, a standard procedure carried out in justice court.
Tenant’s responsibility for yard maintenance is not just a contractual duty but also a component in preserving the value and aesthetics of the property. Landlords have multiple remedies available should a tenant neglect this responsibility, ranging from charging for maintenance costs to eviction proceedings. It’s crucial for both landlords and tenants to understand their rights and responsibilities outlined in the lease agreement to avoid conflicts and maintain a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship.