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Old 03-16-2014, 02:52 AM
chx chx started this thread
 
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I just rented a house in Poulsbo, WA. I'm pretty sure the house was vacant for at least 7 months. There are many weeds throughout the lawn and bedding areas around the house. Additionally there is are small amounts of moss growing on parts of the roof.

The lease says I'm responsible for weeds, watering and mowing grass and preventing moss.

My worry is that once I move in (lease is already signed), I'll be forced to pay A LOT out of pocket to get the house to where it should be or run the risk of them charging me for it when I move out.

Yes, I got tons of photos of every angle of the outside of the house to show the condition of the lawn upon move in.

Is it unreasonable for me to say "hey, you need to make the lawn/roof how you want me to leave it, or I'm going to leave it like this."

Thanks for any advise.
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Old 03-16-2014, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Washington State. Not Seattle.
1,585 posts, read 1,712,205 times
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Generally, you can only be held to "routine maintenance" on things like lawn care, etc, unless your lease specifically says otherwise.

Maintenance does not include anything unreasonable, such as re-landscaping. If you have pictures when you moved in, I don't see how the landlord can hold you responsible for anything. At the worst, he/she can ask you to help improve the property in exchange for a discount on the rent.
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Old 03-16-2014, 01:02 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
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Well, if you refuse to do anything, the lawn will look much worse when you move out and you will be charged for that.

I'd be interested to hear why you signed a lease that says you will take care of the grounds if you are going to refuse to take care of the grounds.

You could have refused to sign the lease until after the landlord got it tidied up.

I'm not seeing all that much work there. Start watering the lawn, mow it regularly, and put the required fertilizer on it. You agreed to do that when you signed the lease. Just steady mowing will get rid of most weeds, because they won't be there long if they are never allowed to set seed.

Put some zinc strips on the ridge-line of the house. That will stop moss on the roof. Or tell the landlord, in writing that you are afraid to get up onto the roof. You are afraid that you will fall and hurt yourself, so he will need to take care of it. Although, you should not have signed a lease that says you will take care of moss on the roof, if you are afraid to get up onto the roof.

Generally, you don't get to sign a contract and then immediately change the terms to what suits you. You signed that contract.
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Old 03-16-2014, 02:53 PM
chx chx started this thread
 
2 posts, read 5,696 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonwoodsmoke View Post
I'd be interested to hear why you signed a lease that says you will take care of the grounds if you are going to refuse to take care of the grounds.
I am moving from out of state. I was not aware of the condition of the lawn prior to seeing it in person.

I thought that regular maintenance of the house would have been done while it was vacant... apparently not.

I should also note that I'm not refusing upkeep. What I am opposed to is hours and hours of work (or lots of money) getting the place to look decent, when it should have been done before I moved in. The owner can write this stuff off.

Obviously I should have rented at an apartment complex, haha!
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Old 03-16-2014, 09:59 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
25,828 posts, read 44,578,886 times
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When you sign a lease with such language as that, you are subject to what you signed. if it had said "responsible for weeds, watering and mowing grass and preventing moss to keep in the same condition as when you moved in" the before photos would protect you. Since it doesn't have that additional verbiage,
you agreed to improving the lawn. It's unfortunate that you didn't see it prior to signing. I would at least call/write to the landlord and ask about being able to deduct the initial cost to get it back in shape from your rent, unless he agrees to do it. Maintenance costs a lot less than restoration. I might add that if you are not from this area, you will be surprised to see how much cost and work there is to eliminating moss on an annual basis. I have to buy at least two sacks of lawn moss killer every spring, rake out as much moss as I can and then spread the granules. It takes from about now to about May for the grass to fill in where the black dead moss areas were. Luckily it rains enough that watering is only needed 2-3 times a month in July and August
but you have to mow at least once a week from March-October. If "preventing moss" applies also to the roof, you are in for a real challenge. It can cost $500 twice a year for a roof cleaning company to come out and clean/treat it.
When it's cloudy and/or raining for 9 months of the year you are going to get moss.
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Old 03-17-2014, 12:23 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
............ If "preventing moss" applies also to the roof, you are in for a real challenge. It can cost $500 twice a year for a roof cleaning company to come out and clean/treat it.
............
Is it possible that you are not from the area? Nobody pays $1,000 a year to have moss removed from the roof.

Put a zinc strip on the ridgeline and there won't be any moss on the roof. Other than that, a can of Moss-B-Gone costs $12 for the big size.

You can buy environmental bleach, designed to be used outside, and a quick spray with that will kill moss on the sidewalk.

OP, even if the grass is in bad shape it will come back if you start to take care of it. You don't have to rip it all out and lay down sod. Very worst possibility is that you will have to pay $10 for a bag of grass seed and top seed the lawn.

There is more of a problem with keeping grass from growing where it isn't wanted than with not being able to get the grass to grow. You don't have to turn it into a show place the first week. Just start taking care of it and every month, it will be looking better and better.

Get plenty of photos of what it looks like on the day that you move in. That doesn't mean you can just let it go, but it will protect you if the landlord wants to expect the yard to win the best lawn in the neighborhood contest.
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Old 03-17-2014, 04:26 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
25,828 posts, read 44,578,886 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonwoodsmoke View Post
Is it possible that you are not from the area? Nobody pays $1,000 a year to have moss removed from the roof.
I have been here in Sammmish 20 years, and yes, people pay that much to have their roofs cleaned here. I used to do it myself but am getting too old to be up there. The moss is made worse by the fir needles, and small branches that blow off of the 100' trees around the homes. I see some homes in some parts of Bellevue and a few here and Issaquah with an inch of moss on their roofs, but most people pay for 1-2 visits a year from a roofing guy. Seattle and other areas without all the trees don't have the same problem, but much of Poulsbo has the trees and they get even more rain than I do. Picture below is what some branches look like after 6 months here. I have a cedar shake roof that's been treated and can get by with once a year cleaning, but composition roofs need it more often.
My neighbors have tried the zinc, Tide and other tricks with no success.
Attached Thumbnails
Can landlord make me fix their unkempt lawn at my expense?-13228350753_b4e701cd6d_z.jpg  
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Old 03-17-2014, 06:22 PM
 
5,076 posts, read 7,159,406 times
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If the place really is neglected on move in, it's worth asking if you could be credited some amount to take care of it. It's probably not a good sign if the LL is prone to 'let the place go' and expect tenants to go above and beyond cleaning it up on move in. I had a property manager pull that once after the previous tenants trashed the place on move out. I soon figured out why they decided to trash the place, as the PM turned out to be a complete jackass.
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:11 AM
 
Location: Washington State. Not Seattle.
1,585 posts, read 1,712,205 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
When you sign a lease with such language as that, you are subject to what you signed. if it had said "responsible for weeds, watering and mowing grass and preventing moss to keep in the same condition as when you moved in" the before photos would protect you. Since it doesn't have that additional verbiage,
you agreed to improving the lawn.
I disagree. There are plenty of tenant's rights laws in Washington state, and most of them are set-up to prevent landlords from expecting things like this. I am not a lawyer, but I am fairly certain that the accepted laws are actually the opposite of what you are stating - that the tenant does NOT need to improve anything, unless the lease he signed specifically says that he does.

Generally, in this state at least, the tenant is responsible for upkeep, and not to improve anything. If the landscaping was crappy before he moved in, then he should be able to maintain the same level of crapiness while he is there. He just can't let it get even worse.
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Old 03-18-2014, 04:20 PM
 
Location: Washington State. Not Seattle.
1,585 posts, read 1,712,205 times
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Again, I'm not a lawyer, but I am told that one of the "legal-ese" provisions in this part of the RCW states that a Landlord can't hold the tenant liable to pay for damage or lack of upkeep that the tenants did not commit, as well as prohibit the landlord from putting a conflicting clause in the lease agreement. It would be no different than that landlord trying to put in a clause in the agreement that said something like "Tenant agrees to give up all established tenant rights" - which would be totally illegal. I think it would be reasonable that damaged or poor landscaping before the tenant moved in would certainly qualify as something the tenant did not commit:

RCW 59.18.230: Waiver of chapter provisions prohibited
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