California South is back in a Drought
The US Drought Monitor said last week that 46 percent California south is back in a drought. Most of the expected restrictions would take effect in April 2018. They typically include prohibitions on watering lawns so much that the water flows into the street, using a hose to wash down sidewalks, or using a hose without an automatic shut-off nozzle to wash cars. Anyone caught wasting water in California may be fined as much as $500 under new rules being considered by the state water board. Making sure sprinkler heads are adjusted to water the grass and not the sidewalk and that your timers are set to the correct days and times were some of the tips shared by the Water Board.
Should the restriction go back into effect, here are some of the consequences to consider should you the Owner/ Landlord penalize the tenant for breaching their section of the lease. Gov. Brown declared back in January 2014, which led to the adoption of laws protecting homeowners and association members who reduce outdoor water usage. In July 2015, the governor signed a bill that adds Section 8627.7 to the Government Code. It states that during a state of emergency based on drought conditions “a city, county, or city and county shall not impose a fine under any ordinance for a failure to water a lawn or for having a brown lawn.” That followed a law that went into effect in 2014 that amended Section 4735 of the Civil Code. It expressly prohibited a common interest development from imposing a fine or assessment against a member for reducing or eliminating watering of vegetation or lawns during a water emergency declared by the state or local government.
Since the last drought, it’s not uncommon to see homes, condos, townhomes and rental properties in Southern California with rock, gravel, and other grass alternatives. Choosing landscaping other than grass is a smart idea, because grass can take a lot of water to keep it green and your tenant might not want to mow the grass when needed. Besides gravel and rock, some of the other grass alternatives could include moss, clover and mulch.
Choose Annuals and Perennial Plants. This tip is important because these plants will ensure that your rental property looks great all year long without you having to reinvest more money in planting new flowers at your rental property.
Invest in native to the environment trees and shrubs. Yes, it’s true that trees and shrubs are a smart landscaping investment to make, especially the slow-growing varieties, because they can keep any landscape looking green all year long and have also been proven to reduce energy costs as well. When choosing trees or shrubs for your rental property you want to choose plants that are native to the environment because plants that are not native to our climate may have a difficult time growing in SoCal. You also want to make sure that your new trees and or shrubs will be watered regularly, and you can do this by installing a drip irrigation system to ensure that your new plants are watered without you or your tenants having to deal with them.
If your lease does not already state who is responsible for the landscape, it is best to assume that you the Owner/ Landlord is. When the lease expires, we recommend you re-write it to include lawn maintenance provisions. “Tenant agrees to maintain the yard and landscaping including trimming, cutting, and fertilizing; unless a gardener responsible for such services is provided by the Landlord. Tenant agrees to furnish trashcans, hoses, and other equipment necessary to maintain the yard and landscaping. Tenant agrees to water the lawn, trees, shrubs and flowers sufficiently to keep them alive and healthy. Any landscaping which dies from lack of water shall be replaced in kind at Tenant’s sole expense. If the Tenant’s yard is not maintained to the reasonable satisfaction of the Landlord, Tenant authorizes Landlord to hire a gardener/landscaping company and to pay for this expense as Additional Rent,” as written the Utopia Management lease.
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