Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Homeowners With High Grass Could Be Sent To Prison

Canton, Ohio, in an effort to crack down on the number of unkempt yards, is preparing to put violating homeowners behind bars. As the number of foreclosures has risen, so too have the number of homes with what the city deems excessively high grass. The city considers anything higher than eight inches to be too high, according to the Canton Repository.

The first high grass offense carries a $150 fine, but a second violation can warrant a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail. The city complains that they are spending too much valuable time and money on this problem and thinks that this measure will get the message across. They are even prepared to go after banks and other corporate homeowners if they violate the city code, according to the Canton Repository.

I don’t really see the city sending anyone to jail over this; rather, I see it simply as a threatening maneuver on their part to frighten homeowners into action. I know if I was a homeowner in Canton I would make sure my lawn was always immaculate.

It is my belief that out-of-area investors should be, without question, outsourcing lawn care properties--and even in area investors might want to consider it. Tenants just aren’t going to have the same appreciation for the property, and in particular the lawn maintenance, as you will as the homeowner. Sure, you can probably find tenants that will mow the lawn on a regular basis, but finding ones who will water the grass and other flowers, along with pruning and hedging and all the other landscaping needs that are required, is going to be pretty difficult.

I’ve tried in the past to write into the contract all the landscaping items which were to be required of the tenants, but it didn’t work out quite as I hoped. I even had one couple that really tried to keep the yard up, but they just didn’t know what they were doing and soon the lawn was completely overtaken with moss. I won’t even tell you about the horror stories of some of my first tenants (before the contract changes) and what they did to the landscaping. Let’s just say that from experience I can say that out-of-area investors need to outsource lawn care. If you are worried about the added cost, you can either add it on top of the rent and advertise it as full lawn service included, or keep the price as is and require them to pay an additional lawn service fee. Even if you have to cover some of the cost, though, it is more than worth it in my book.

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