What is a tenant’s iability for a dying tree?

I recently left a rental home. The landlord replaced a tree approximately 4 months prior to us leaving due to a prior diseased tree dying. The replacement tree was small and not doing well and it too started dying, even though I watered it as told by the man that he had plant it. He deducted $300 from our deposit saying it was for the cost of the tree, planting, digging, fertilizer, etc I didn’t kill this tree and did everything I was told to do. Can he do this?

Asked on September 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A tenant is not generally responsible for landscaping or tending the landscaping, unless the lease made him or her responsible. If the lease did make you responsible for the upkeep of the landscraping AND you failed to follow directions--that is, you were at fault--then you could be liable for the cost of the tree. But if the  lease did not make you responsible or you did everything you were told to do (i.e. you were not at fault) you should not have to pay. You may be able to sue the the landlord, such as in small claims court, for the return of your money.

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