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Tenant thrown by demands in landlord's six-month home inspection: 'What can we do?

"They can't make you do it, but you might have to go to court over it."

"They can't make you do it, but you might have to go to court over it."

Photo Credit: iStock

If you're looking to sign a rental agreement for a house with a lawn, maybe you should consider reading through the lease one more time. Otherwise, you could wind up in a similar situation to this tenant renting a home in Houston.

On the r/LifeProTips subreddit, the tenant wrote that their landlord was holding them to an agreement in the lease that the tenant must "keep the yard green" following a six-month inspection. 

Though they watered the lawn once daily, it wasn't enough to keep it from frying in the Texas heat. To keep it green as requested in the lease, their landlord asked them to water the lawn three to four times daily during the hot summer months.

"It'll be almost $1000 water bill." They wrote. "What can we do?"

Unfortunately, landlord-tenant issues regarding limited water use and other money-saving, eco-friendly lifestyles aren't uncommon. So far this year, The Cool Down has covered absurd yard maintenance expectations, landlords who rip up tenants' gardens, and strict rules that prevent the hanging of clotheslines to dry laundry.

So, what can you do if you find yourself in one of these situations?

If you're willing to make the effort, it is possible to change established rules. TCD has created a homeowners association guide with information on how to make eco-friendly changes in HOA-run communities or with strict landlords.

The step-by-step pointer details how to obtain HOA rules and find state laws, who to reach out to for questions and complaints, and how to start conversations with landlords, HOA boards, and other members of the community who may also be affected.

Without personally enacting change, you may be stuck relying on local ordinances to override HOA or landlord rules. As droughts become more common, so do statutes that limit water usage to preserve the resource. This is especially true for outdoor watering, which accounts for a third of a household's total water usage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Some users on the subreddit made similar assurances to the tenant.

"A lot of cities are enacting [ordinances] against this sort of waste," one commented. "Definitely check to see if watering that often is even legal considering climate conditions."

"If it's against local water ordinance, they can't make you do it, but you might have to go to court over it," another replied.

Others suggested ideas on how to improve the health of the yard without excessive watering.

"Get a hose and slow drip water at the base of the trees," one wrote. "That will keep them alive at a less use of water. The lawn will bounce back from being dry."

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