Summer's coming! But who's problem is the garden?

Question

My rental property has a large garden. Now the weather is picking up, my tenants are keen to make use of it. Who is responsible for it’s upkeep?

Answer

First and foremost, hooray for the good weather!

When the summer (finally) rolls around, making sure your tenants are aware of their restrictions in the garden is important, and knowing who is responsible for what is as important outside as it is in.

Bickering over garden maintenance is common, and can lead to awkward conversations, and even deposit disputes at the end of a tenancy.

Your tenancy agreement should form the basis of the guidelines for you and your tenant to follow. If the property includes a garden, most tenancy agreements will contain a clause addressing this, stating that the tenant is able to use the garden, but that they are responsible for keeping the area litter-free, tidy and not overgrown. Failure to address the garden would be breaking the terms of the tenancy agreement. You should provide your tenants will the relevant tools to complete the tasks (lawnmower etc) but they sign up to use them!

If your tenant’s use of the garden causes any nuisance to neighbours, or damage to property – whether it be caused by themselves or their guests – the terms of their rental agreement state that the responsibility for these issues are down to the tenant. In the same way that if a kitchen unit was dented during a party, a garden fence damaged during a summer BBQ is down to your tenant.

You should not expect your tenant to carry out any works in the garden that would improve it over and above the state that they received it in when they took on the property – however if your tenant wants to make changes to your garden, they must approach you to seek permission before they do. With this in mind, don’t forget to include the garden in the inventory at the start and end of the tenancy!

Your tenants are not responsible for all aspects of garden maintenance, however. If your garden contains any elements that require specialist attention – tall trees that require professional trimming, water features that require treatment or tricky plants that require removal (see our post on Japanese Knotweed), it is your responsibility as a landlord to draft in the relevant professionals for these tasks.

If your tenant reports an issue that arises in the garden that isn’t their fault – high winds have blown the fence down, for example – it is your responsibility to act on this issue, just as you would a maintenance issue inside the property.

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