How to conduct a successful property viewing

Who is responsible for cutting grass?

Question

My property has a fairly large garden front and back, and the grass is waist high. I supply a lawnmower, but my tenants don’t seem to want to use it. Is this my responsibility as a landlord?

Answer

Gardening is a tricky topic, as we all have very different views on what is deemed ‘reasonable upkeep’ in terms of outside space. Alan Titchmarsh may have far higher standards that your average weekend potterer, so drawing set guidelines to abide by is tricky.

Ideally, it is a great idea to set key rules that you and your tenant can agree on at the start of the tenancy and have these written into the tenancy agreement. If you are looking to implement new rules midway through a tenancy, you may find you come up against opposition. The first step is to check your tenancy agreement and see if there is any mention of who holds responsibility for maintenance of the outside space.

You may find that your tenant is signed up to a maintenance clause, in which case a gentle reminder of their responsibilities may go a long way. Alternatively, you may discover that the job lies at your feet – in which case, I’m afraid you better get the mower out!

If there’s no mention of who’s role it is, you are in a slightly trickier position. It would appear that your tenant may not be the most green-fingered person around, however they do have an entire garden to themselves, so it is not out of the question to expect them to handle the cutting of the grass and giving the garden a quick once over every now and again to check it is free of rubbish etc. If there are any issues that encroach on the structure of the property, they can take this opportunity to notify you of anything amiss.

If you are concerned that your tenant is never going to take control of the wilderness, you could consider involving a third party and taking on the services of a gardener. By bringing in a professional you are removing the onus from the tenant and saving yourself a job.

If you don’t fancy footing the bill for this service, you could consider advertising your property as having a maintained garden, and add the cost of the maintenance to the rent (only at the start of a new tenancy though, don’t do this with existing tenants!) or offer a ‘money off scheme’ whereby you offer prospective tenants the opportunity to manage the space themselves and not pay the gardener rates, on the understanding that if the standards aren’t maintained, a gardener will be employed and rent increased.

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