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Q: Tenant responsibility ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Tenant responsibility
Category: Reference, Education and News > Consumer Information
Asked by: poohgenius-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 15 Apr 2005 09:26 PDT
Expires: 15 May 2005 09:26 PDT
Question ID: 509674
We are renting a home in a subdivision with HOA. Our lease states that
we are responsible for lawn(yard) maintenance. We moved in January of
2004. In the spring the weeping willow and a smaller tree in the front
yard did not blossom. The willow was infested with insects, and was
green on one side only. We informed the owners, and were told to cut
back the branches and see if that would help. The tree died completely
and the HOA fined the owners until it was cut down. Now they want us
to pay $850.00 for the tree removal and also to replace the tree. Does
maintenance include replacing dead trees (not our fault). THey have
given us a 5 day notice because we didn't pay the tree removal bill,
but we have paid our rent.

Request for Question Clarification by richard-ga on 15 Apr 2005 10:00 PDT
As you may know, a lease that imposes costs of upkeep, etc. on the
tenant is often called a 'net' lease.  And a lease that imposes every
imaginable cost on a tenant is often called a 'net net' lease.

Can you type out the paragraph in the lease that talks about lawn maintenance? 

Also, generally the word 'maintenance' refers to expenses, and only in
a net net lease would the tenant also be responsible for capital
expenditures.  I'd be interested to know if other features of your
lease are more of the 'net' or 'net net' type.  For example, if the
house needed a new roof, does the lease give a clue who would pay for

I'm thinking that if the landlord would have to bear the cost of
removing and replacing a roof, then the landlord might have to bear
the cost of removing and replacing a tree.

Clarification of Question by poohgenius-ga on 15 Apr 2005 12:01 PDT
The paragraph reads"Tenant shall be responsible for maintenance of
yard, lawn, plants & trees and for keeping the yard which is visible
from the street free from trash cans(except on trash pickup days)
debris, etc".

Also, if you can answer this question: If our lease is with the owners
and they hire a property manager, do they have to let us know of the
change and who we should be making the rent pmts too? Per our lease,
we pay our rent by depositing a money order into their checking
acct(they live in California, we are in NV). The realtor that is
trying to sell the house has sent us a letter stating that he is the
NEW property manager and we should make all pmts to him.

Request for Question Clarification by richard-ga on 15 Apr 2005 14:07 PDT
Hello again.

I don't think there's a clear answer to the question whether you are
liable for the $850 plus replacing the tree.  I can give you the
arguments to make for your side of the question--please let me know if
I should post that as an Answer.

Regarding the property manager, I can refer you to the applicable
Nevada statute as part of my Answer.

Looking forward

Clarification of Question by poohgenius-ga on 15 Apr 2005 14:46 PDT
Thanks, I would appreciate any information you may have.
Subject: Re: Tenant responsibility
Answered By: richard-ga on 16 Apr 2005 08:44 PDT
Rated:3 out of 5 stars
Hello again:

Here are the points, in addition to those made by daniel2d-ga as a
Comment, that you need to make in a polite letter to your landlord.

1.  The lease only requires, as far as the landscaping is concerned,
that the Tenant be responsible for maintenance of yard, lawn, plants &
trees and for keeping the yard which is visible from the street free
from trash cans (except on trash pickup days, debris, etc.

2.  The lease does not say, as it might have, that the Tenant be
responsible for the removal and replacement of plants and trees.

3.  This is a residential lease, and it would not be reasonable or
customary to require the Tenant to undertake capital costs like
removal and replacement of a tree.

4.  A tree is a structural element of the residence, like a deck or a
garage.  Removing and replacing a tree is like removing and replacing
a deck or garage.  In each case these would be costs to be borne by
the landlord, not the tenant, because they are capital costs, not

5.  If the lease had said that the Tenant must pay to remove and
replace any tree that dies during the term of the lease, you would not
have agreed to it.

6.  Since the landlord drafted the lease, any ambiguity must be
construed in favor of the tenant.

As far as paying rent to the property manager, you certainly should
write the landlord to confirm that you should, and be sure to get a
receipt when you pay.  Your lease probably includes a 'notice'
provision that tells how to properly communicate with the landlord. 
Under Nevada law,

"Written notices to the landlord prescribed by this chapter may be
delivered or mailed to the place of business of the landlord
designated in the rental agreement or to any place held out by the
landlord as the place for the receipt of rental payments from the
tenant and are effective from the date of delivery or mailing."

Search terms used:
nevada statutes landlord tenant
"capital expense" landlord tenant

I hope you find this information helpful, and that the landlord sees it your way.

poohgenius-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
The answer was extremely helpful, took a copy into court, great response time.

Subject: Re: Tenant responsibility
From: daniel2d-ga on 16 Apr 2005 00:39 PDT
First, only upon the written instructions of the owner would I change
who I send my payment to.

Second, "maintenance" usually means taking that action that prevents
an item from falling into disrepair.  For a tree than might mean
watering it, pruning the branches and the like.  It is highly unlikely
that a judge would require you to absorb the costs your landlord is
asking for.  Write them a polite letter statig your position and the
fact (if true) that you are an excellent tenant and pay on time.  
That's worth something.  The landlords only alternative is small
claims court which is unlikely.

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