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Frustrated tenant forced to pay high water bills for landlord's yard: '[The lease] says nothing about keeping the lawn green'

"The lease says I pay utilities," they said. "It says nothing about keeping the lawn green."

Sprinkler tinkering

Photo Credit: iStock

One Redditor recently said their landlord had run up their bills with a wasteful lawn sprinkler setup.

Some landlords have unrealistic expectations for expensive lawn care, even in hot, dry areas where green grass is costly. Many homeowners in these areas have joined the anti-lawn movement and chosen money- and water-saving alternatives with the help of companies like Yardzen.

However, some landlords just pass the massive lawn care bills on to their tenants.

That's what one Redditor claimed happened to them in their eastern Washington home. "A few weeks after I moved in late last summer, I realized that the sprinklers were using 800 gallons of water a night," they said.

The Redditor explained that their monthly water and sewer plan with the city, which costs $144, allowed them to use 7,500 gallons of water per month before receiving extra charges.

If they were right about the sprinklers guzzling 800 gallons every night, they would use about 24,000 gallons a month — more than three times the amount the property's water plan allowed, even before the rest of the household's water use.

According to the Redditor, they simply hadn't turned the sprinklers on since the discovery because they weren't "willing to waste [their] money and 800 gallons of water a night to keep the 20'x20' patch of grass green."

But in May, they said their landlord noticed. "Landlord texted me today saying the grass is brown and wanting to know how the sprinklers are programmed," the Redditor wrote. 

According to them, it should never have been their responsibility to pay for the excessive water use. "The lease says I pay utilities," they said. "It says nothing about keeping the lawn green." 

But commenters worried that the original poster might still be on the hook.

"If the lease mentions keeping the property in move-in condition, green grass could fall under that," one user pointed out.

But other commenters argued that 800 gallons a night was ridiculously excessive. "You only need 1-2 inches of water per week," said one user. Another Redditor replied that 800 gallons across a 20-by-20 square added up to three inches of water each night.

"This isn't all 800 gallons a day or nothing," said another commenter. "Programming the sprinkler system is generally a [pain in the a**], but an hour or so on a Saturday morning and you can be done for the summer."

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