Can we take plants and flowers we planted in the backyard when we move out? Do they belong to the landlord?

Asked by Rose, Sat Oct 11, 2008

First of all, we know that we are foolish enough to spend our own money to make someone's backyard neat and nice(we are renting). Although we did it for our own comfort, it did add value to the landlord's property. And now we are moving out, and found out that our landlord does not want to reimburse any of the cost we invested in his yard. We had new lawn installed and planted various flowers, etc... The backyard (only rocks and dirt before) has transformed into a beautiful garden by us now.

As we are moving, we would like to take all the flowers and plants we planted with us, maybe even rip off the lawn and take with us. Can we do that? Someone said that this could against the law and anything we planted belongs to the landlord, it does not matter who pays for it. Is this true? We are very disappointed that our landlord didn't see our effort to keep his place nice and does not want to even compensate a penny to us.

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Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Sun Oct 12, 2008
Rose, this is not legal advice. For legal advice see an attorney
.

If it were me I'd take them. They are yours. Ripping out the lawn is a little much, but rocks, bushes...if you paid for them, IMHO they are still yours.

Of course, the landlord may disagree. I think you should be able to negotiate. If he says "no" then take them. You just need to leave the home as you found it.
1 vote
Bigblacktras…, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Sun Apr 30, 2017
We are very late to the game here but we have made improvements on multiple properties over the years (garden improvements) and we 150% always take the expensive plants with us unless there's some other deal worked out.

While you're getting quizi legal advice, the reality of it is that the landlord would have to sue you in court. And not just court, small claims court. Two things: 1) it's not going to be worth their time. 2) if they sue you counter sue for the maximum amount. A very very small amount of work can pull up a massive, massive amount of infractions a landlord can be doing that makes him/her liable for the maximum small claims amount.

There's nothing worse than landlords suddenly thinking more equity for no money. In the actual business world that's called fraud.

We've had terrible landlords and they didn't say a word. Don't worry about it.
0 votes
Bigblacktras…, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Sun Apr 30, 2017
We are very late to the game here but we have made improvements on multiple properties over the years (garden improvements) and we 150% always take the expensive plants with us unless there's some other deal worked out.

While you're getting quizi legal advice, the reality of it is that the landlord would have to sue you in court. And not just court, small claims court. Two things: 1) it's not going to be worth their time. 2) if they sue you counter sue for the maximum amount. A very very small amount of work can pull up a massive, massive amount of infractions a landlord can be doing that makes him/her liable for the maximum small claims amount.

There's nothing worse than landlords suddenly thinking more equity for no money. In the actual business world that's called fraud.

We've had terrible landlords and they didn't say a word. Don't worry about it.
0 votes
Annelyst, Home Buyer, Santa Fe, NM
Thu May 2, 2013
Thanks! There were virulent weeds before.

There will be beds with amendment and bark, ready for someone to plant flowers, plants if they want.

I feel like a grave robber!
0 votes
, ,
Thu May 2, 2013
Read your lease agreement. I would think it'd be okay as long as you leave it how it was before you moved in. In other words if there was grass there, be sure you leave grass, and not gaping, muddy holes.


Best of Luck;

Christina Solorzano;
CEO & SR Credit Repair Specialist at
Everlasting Credit Repair
Ex-Mortgage Broker of 10+ years
http://www.everlastingcredit.com
0 votes
Annelyst, Home Buyer, Santa Fe, NM
Thu May 2, 2013
I am in the same position and also wonder about the right or wisdom and digging up perennials I put in the ground.
In my case, this garden does not have a drip system and the plants will surely die if I'm not here to water them. Who knows when the next tenant will arrive and if they will want to maintain the garden?
I plan to take some of the plants and hope they don't notice or object.
0 votes
Kathleen Sei…, Agent, Gainesville, FL
Fri Mar 20, 2009
I know this is a bit late in the game, but if you are thinking of doing improvements to a rental it's better to negotiate with the landlord before doing anything. After the fact you don't have much to negotiate.

Since you didn't ask about it first it sounds like you were happy just to be able to live with a pretty yard. I hope you were able to enjoy it for a while, and enjoy doing the work on it too : )

Has the landlord seen the yard, do they know exactly everything that you added?
0 votes
Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Fri Mar 20, 2009
I don't really think it's right to take plants out of the yard when you move. The rule of thumb is, if it cannot be picked up and moved (like patio furniture) it is a fixture attached to the land and stays.
I'm sure you don't really want to move with soil and grass and other plants in amongst your furniture, the children's toys and things.
On the other hand, it would be considerate of the owner of the to re-imburse you for what you spent on his property.
I hope you're moving into your own home now, so that whatever you put into it....will be yours for years to come!
Web Reference:  http://www.doreneslavitz.com
0 votes
Tracy Lu Gui…, Agent, Camarillo, CA
Sat Oct 11, 2008
Perhaps you can get permission from the landlord to dig & pot select flowers and plants which may have sentimental value to you? Perhaps you can replace those plants with more affordable drought resitant varities, in this way it might be a win/win. I think peeling up the sod may be a bit extreme, but I understand your frusteration.
0 votes
Tisza Major-…, Agent, Upland, CA
Sat Oct 11, 2008
Hi Rose,

The short answer to your question is no, you can not take the plants, flowers, grass, etc. that you planted in your landlords property with you when you leave without risking legal action. If the plants are still in pots however, then they still do belong to you.

The basic rule of thumb is that if something is movable (a potted plant, furniture, rugs, etc.) then it is considered personal property and belongs to whomever purchased it or it was given to. If the item is not movable (light fixtures, ceiling fans, plants in the ground, anything permanently attached to the property) than it is considered "real property" and belongs to the owner of the home or business.

I think that the best thing you can do at this point is remember how much you enjoyed making the home you were living in a beautiful place for your family and also that the next time you decide to make any improvements in someone else's property you will get their authorization and commitment to either pay for the upgrade or allow you to deduct it from the rent.

I hope this helps. Take care and have a great day!

Tisza Major-Posner, Realtor, IVPG Realty (909) 837-8922
Web Reference:  http://Route66Living.com/
0 votes
I am currently in the exact predicament. I did ask to make the garden improvements including a trellis that wraps the deck, otherwise I would be basically eating on the street. So if I remove what i put my blood sweat and tears into and replaced as it was when I moved in the can cause legal action?
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