Q: My tenant cut down all our trees, hedges, and landscaping without our permission. What can I do?

A: If you signed a written lease with your tenant, most leases will provide that the tenant can’t alter or modify the leased home without the landlord’s permission. Most leases will also provide that the tenants must maintain the property in good condition or in the same condition as it was given to them on the start of the lease.

If the tenant has violated the terms of the lease, the tenant is responsible for the damage.

You can bill the tenant for the damage and if they fail to pay, you can use the security deposit they left with you to pay for the damage. If the security deposit is not enough and the tenants refuse to pay you what it will cost to replace the landscaping, you’ll have to sue your tenants to recover the money they owe you.

If you don’t have a written lease, the history of court cases in your state would govern what actions your tenants make take while renting a property from you. If you own a property in an urban area, it should be deemed inappropriate and a “waste” to have a tenant remove landscaping on the property. You may want to talk to a real estate attorney to review your lease and determine what your course of action should take.