In this blog about garden disputes we shall be covering:
- What you need to do to when starting off
- What you can expect during the tenancy
- How to avoid disputes at the end of the tenancy
November might seem a strange time to be talking about gardens. If you are carrying out home visits this month you may see a pile of leaves or snow. In other words, you are not going to be able to tell what condition the garden is in until the spring.
I find that gardens have always been a mixed blessing for landlords. However, they are one of the top search criteria on Rightmove so it is a plus to have one but there is always going to be a problem of management and maintenance.
For those accidental landlords that have a perfect lawn and beautiful shrubs at the start of a tenancy, I am sorry to say you cannot guarantee that you will have the garden back in the same condition that you initially let it out. If it is going to worry you, the best advice I can give you is not to go down the rental route.
After your resident leaves and the checkout has taken place, we find that the second most common cause for deductions to the deposit is the condition of the garden.
Generally, your resident is responsible for keeping the garden in the same condition as it was at the start of their tenancy. This involves maintaining tasks such as removing litter, watering plants, and weeding.
The landlord is responsible for tasks that require additional expertise for example – fixing broken fences, removing broken sheds, maintenance of high trees and shrubs
To establish how you can avoid a garden dispute, we have six tips to help deal with potential issues:
One: create a strong foundation
Ensure that the garden is in good condition before your resident moves in, clearing any excess weeds, cutting back shrubs, mowing the lawn, and removing any uneven paving stones and old furniture. This will set the ground running for all new residents and ensure they have a baseline of what is expected from them.
Two: understand what your residents can and cannot do
Not everyone likes gardening. So, if you are presenting an immaculate garden at the start of the tenancy you will need to understand what might not be done. If it will concern you that the garden is not maintained in the way you want it, you need to think about paying for a gardener. The payment for this can be agreed at the start of the tenancy.
Three: put clear garden maintenance clauses in place
Your resident should know what they are responsible for in the garden. This should be written in the tenancy agreement which both parties have signed and the clause must be clear and fair. A clause to keep the garden weed free may be classed as unfair one. A clause to ‘keep the grass cut’ is too loose – they may have cut the grass at 6cm long !
We have three clauses in our general agreement which cover:
- Keeping planters window boxes and patios weeded
- Don’t reduce or destroy existing plants
- Let us attend the garden when required
Four: keep a record of the garden inventory
If there are plants you are concerned with, you need to make sure you have good quality time-stamped photos of the garden so they have documentation in case of any problems that may arise with the tenant.
Five: conduct regular inspections
When conducting the property inspection for the tenancy, you should check over the garden and document any changes. If there are any apparent issues, your resident should be asked to rectify these at the time of inspection.
Six: maintain a good relationship with your resident
Keeping a good relationship your resident can help to avoid a garden dispute. They should also be encouraged to report issues when they occur, rather than at the end of the tenancy where it may become difficult to decide who owns responsibility over the issue.
We hope you found this blog helpful. Have any thoughts? Let us know!