When tenants leave large items in your rental property’s yard, it can quickly turn into a serious concern. Even if they sign the most detailed and strict lease agreement, tenants will want to personalize their home with their belongings, adding personal touches that may extend to the yard. While items like a lounge chair or a planter may add aesthetic appeal to the rental property, it’s the large items you should be worried about.
Big items such as trampolines, playhouses, above-ground swimming pools, trailers, tiny homes, etc. can put your tenants and their neighbors in danger. What’s more, is that they may violate local regulations without knowing it. Your tenant’s innocent addition to the yard could cause major trouble.
If you’re wondering if you should allow your tenant to leave large items in your rental property’s yard, this article will explain why you should be cautious, and what you should do if a tenant leaves big items behind.
Should Landlords Allow Tenants to Install a Trampoline?
If you own a single-family rental home, chances are that your tenants will want to install a trampoline in the yard. This is especially true if your tenants are a family with children. Aside from a trampoline promoting healthy exercise, it can keep energetic kids occupied for hours. And although trampoline manufacturers design safe trampolines that feature safety nets, allowing a tenant to add one to the yard comes with serious risks.
In the U.S.backyard trampolines account for about 100,000 injuries every year. The majority of these injuries happen to unsupervised children, and mostly include broken bones and head injuries resulting in permanent neurological damage. Additionally, statistics show that trampolines kill one person per year.
Trampolines can also become an eyesore if they aren’t maintained. Aside from being prone to rust, trampolines make yard maintenance more difficult. You’ll have to move the trampoline each time the lawn has to be mowed. The grass underneath a trampoline will likely die due to being kept in the shade for too long. Plus, since trampolines are difficult to get rid of, tenants are likely to leave them in the yard even after they move out.
Should Landlords Allow Tenants to Install an Above-Ground Pool?
Many landlords tend to stay away from single-family homes with a swimming pool. This is because a swimming pool carries serious risks — from 2005 to 2014, there were around 3,536 deaths due to unintentional drowning in the U.S., which is about ten deaths per day. No landlord wants to get sued for injuries, or worse, death.
Since it’s your property, you will be responsible for any losses. You must get adequate property insurance to cover these types of accidents. Should you allow your tenant to add an above-ground pool, you need to ensure that he/she surrounds it with a fence. In some states, it’s required to surround all pool areas with child-proof fences and gates to keep unsupervised children away.
Similar to the trampoline, an above-ground pool will kill the grass underneath it. When the tenant leaves, you’ll have to deal with an unsightly patch of dead grass. If you do allow your tenant to install an above-ground pool, it would be best to ask them to set it up on the driveway or patio. Be sure to check local building codes before allowing a tenant to install an above-ground pool.
Should Landlords Allow Tenants to Do Gardening?
By law, tenants are not allowed to change the landscaping without the property owner’s permission. Even if the alterations can boost the rental’s curb appeal, landlords still have the final say. Tenants who start digging into the soil are at risk of violating their lease agreement.
However, allowing your tenants to do some landscaping has its benefits. It keeps your tenants happy since it gives them a sense of responsibility for the place, and as a landlord, you might also benefit from certain productive plants like zucchini or tomato. Just be sure that the tenant will be able to tend to the garden, otherwise, your property’s value will suffer.
The safer choice would be to allow garden beds, as they are more temporary and can easily be replaced or removed once the tenant vacates. Don’t forget to check your city’s laws on gardening. Some cities are particularly strict about the landscaping choices on the front yard.
What if a Tenant Leaves Big Items Behind?
If the tenant leaves without getting rid of large items, it may be tempting to dispose of them. However, removing items left behind is considered unlawful. Anything that the tenant leaves behind is still legally their property.
The good news is that you can get rid of any items your tenant left behind as long as you follow a strict procedure. This involves serving the tenant a notice that the landlord intends to dispose of his/her goods. It’s customary to grant the tenant at least 21 days to collect their items.
The important thing is to take all reasonable steps to contact the former tenant. Otherwise, you may face civil action if you unlawfully dispose of, sell, or damage their property.
Can Landlords Sell Abandoned Items?
Yes, but only when the tenant has permitted to dispose of or to sell their items. In this case, you’ll need to secure explicit permission from the tenant, whether in oral or written form, to prevent the tenant from accusing you of unlawfully disposing of their items in the future.
However, explicit permission isn’t required when the tenant fails to respond to the 21-day notice, or when the landlord is unable to get in touch with them after multiple attempts to do so.
How Can Landlords Prevent Abandoned Items?
Before the tenant signs the lease agreement, make sure you ask for the contact details of their family members or friends. This makes it easy to track them down if they leave personal belongings when their tenancy expires or when they are evicted.
It’s also ideal to conduct move-out inspections days before the day they’re due to vacate. This gives your tenants ample time to get rid of their stuff. A professional property management company can handle move-out inspections to ensure that your tenants don’t leave big items lying around.
How Luxury Property Care Can Help
Hiring Luxury Property Care ensures that your real estate investments and tenants are protected. With a dedicated team of property management professionals, we provide vital services such as tenant education, routine property inspections, and more.