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Tenants and Your Rental Property Garden
Often tenants when renting a property – be it a flat or house – don’t consider themselves responsible for the garden area.
And in many cases, that’s fair enough since, in the case of a flat in an apartment block this is usually looked after by a management company. The landlord then pays a maintenance fee. This can be the same set-up for a house – but not always. And, often, that is when disputes arise.
To make sure your tenant understands that they are responsible for – and expected to look after – not just your property, but also the grounds on which it sits, its’ often necessary to put a clause or two into the Tenancy Agreement. Once they have signed this, the tenants have agreed to look after the garden too.
But it’s not always that simple – to the extent that your tenant’s definition of ‘looking after the garden’ may be very different to your own. And that’s why the clauses in your Tenancy Agreement should be detailed, citing that you expect them to look after and maintain it – that may include looking after the plants and ensuring the grass is cut.
This may seem picky but it’s far better to outline exactly what you expect in this regard than find your house sitting in the middle of a jungle three years later when your tenants advise you they are moving out. It also means you will be ‘keeping yourself right’ in the eyes of the court should any discrepancies arise. An inventory can help with this too if you include the garden.
Include the Garden in a Property Inventory
Your property inventory – a copy of which is given to the tenants when they move in – should also document the state of the garden, accompanied by photographs.
This is a reminder to your tenants of what the garden looked like when they moved in, and how you would like it to be maintained ie if when moving out the grass is four-feet tall then you would have a case for deducting money from their tenancy deposit to pay for a gardener to come and cut it.
Then there is the other side of the coin, when tenants have gone ahead and built themselves a make-shift patio area, complete with barbecue on a previously beautifully-trimmed back lawn – all without the landlord’s permission.
Tenant Responsibilities and Gardens
The main responsibility for tenants is to maintain the garden so that it looks more or less the same when they move out. In other words, they certainly shouldn’t be expected to replant flowers or spend hours on their hands and knees weeding.
When it comes to the garden’s upkeep, it doesn’t matter if they do it themselves, or employ someone else to cut the lawn and do a little weeding from time to time – just so long as the work is actually done and the garden looks good.
There are properties where the landlord will arrange privately for a gardener to come in and tidy up the place but that’s not always welcome by tenants who, understandably, may feel ‘spied upon’ and their privacy disturbed. However, if the plants or trees in the garden require the touch of an expert then this is understandable and should be discussed with tenants beforehand.
There are also landlords who have a number of properties in their portfolio and find it more financially viable to hire a gardener during the summer months to service the gardens of all properties at the same time. In doing so he or she will bag themselves a discount for bulk work.
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