This past weekend was our school’s Fall Break, which means we’re now more than halfway through the semester. And, um, apparently I’ve only posted three times to the blog during that time. It seems I am out of the habit! Well, friends, I’m going to try to dust this thing off and see what happens.
I am in the midst of my great Harry Potter reread, which I began some time in the summer shortly after CW and I had re-watched all but the first two movie versions. I was really plowing through the books until I started the fifth one, which I’m still currently reading. I think once work got really busy, my reading time correspondingly diminished. I’ve got to finish, though, because 1) I always finish things, and 2) I have some good books just waiting for me on my Kindle app, including the new Tana French! So I shall soldier on. (Not that I’m not enjoying it.) I have gotten to the part where the kids start holding Dumbledore’s Army meetings, so things are definitely happening, but I usually can’t read more than 2-3 pages each night before I fall asleep.
Having the last weekend off was absolutely wonderful, I must add. We haven’t had a Fall Break here during the time I’ve been teaching — this year was the first. I am so, so pleased the school made it happen. It’s right at that point in the semester where students are exhausted from midterms and faculty are drowning in grading and usually, without the break, the light at the end of the tunnel (aka Thanksgiving break) is still so far away. Having a long weekend right in the middle of October is the perfect little breather.
I got to spend time with my husband; I got to hang out with friends; I drank some pumpkin beers; I went to a bowling birthday party; I went on a couple of great runs; and CW and I got some much needed work done in our front yard. Lovely, perfect fall weekend. Speaking of our yard, I know I’ve written here before about how the lawn service provided by our rental agency had become so unreliable and sporadic — when our grass kept growing longer and longer and more embarrassing, I was half serious about putting a sign in the yard proclaiming “Landscaping by [Redacted] Properties.” I did not do that. Instead, CW just went out and bought a lawnmower and things improved immediately.
Well, we assumed the service would still come by and trim the hedges and whatnot, even if they didn’t need to mow the lawn any longer, but they never did. Pretty soon, the bushes in our front garden bed were absolutely OUT OF CONTROL. After I came in from a long run Saturday morning, I casually asked CW if we had any kind of hedge trimmers. This led to an impromptu trip to the hardware store and a couple of hours of trimming and weeding the entire front garden. It had gotten so bad that we had some legitimate questions about what was supposed to be there and what had simply started growing on its own. I uprooted a LOT of tiny maple trees. (Sorry, John Denver.) It was amazing what a difference it made! I should have taken some before and after pics, but it didn’t occur to me in time. I think we are going to get some mulch or pine straw this weekend, so maybe I’ll take a photo once that’s done. For the moment, you’ll have to imagine a very normal-looking yard that seems like it has been maintained by a couple of responsible adults. That’s the look we’re going for. Responsible.
At any rate, we are quite pleased with ourselves. Now that we basically know we cannot count on the lawn service do either mow OR prune/weed/trim, we can just take control of the situation ourselves. The only loose end at this point is to contact the rental company and make some official complaint. I…do not look forward to this. I am very non-confrontational and I hate to complain. I would much rather be passive aggressive — case in point, my hypothetical “Landscaping by…” sign. However, I do think they need to know that the work that someone is paying for (us? or the homeowner?) is not being done.
(Advice or Suggestions???)
I would suggest to them that y’all are happy (haha) to continue keeping up the landscaping for a corresponding credit against the rent. I don’t know what the ideal balance point is, maybe around $40-50? It will be less than full & fair compensation for the time and money you’ll put into lawn maintenance, but in my opinion something in this range makes them more likely to bite. It should really be more like $100+, value wise for them (and compensation wise for y’all this might still be a bit low considering your time, effort and expense), but that’s never going to get off the ground. Ask for too much and they balk and you’re back in the territory of waiting for your yard to grow into a labyrinth before they send someone out.
Okay, I read back through the earlier post and saw that y’all have called & complained. I would draft a letter instead of calling and document (if you can) the several times you complained, the (lack of) response, and that you finally felt like you had to do it yourself because on at least two occasions you had company and were planning to spend time in the yard. I can do a quick bit of research on landlord/tenant there and see if there’s any actual legal authority to help you, but I’m not sure if the “warranty of habitability” (required for rental properties) extends to outside and how bad it might have to get to be “illegal.” At the very least, maybe you can drop some scary sounding words like that and get some compensation for the work you’ve already done. Maybe close with a suggestion that you’re happy for them to take over the upkeep again, but if it gets too out of control you will continue the upkeep in the future for a $50 credit per month.
Mel, thanks for your good advice on this! I love having a BFF who is a lawyer because you always know how to get things done. I think this sounds reasonable, so we will probably do something along these lines. I am going to try to get CW to write the actual letter because that’s right up his rhetorician alley.