One common area for tenant-landlord disputes is garden maintenance, that’s because many tenancy agreements do not cover garden maintenance or even mention the garden at all! But, with lockdown ending and more households able to meet in back gardens, the rise of the Great British BBQ is back with a vengeance!
So, how can you make sure this doesn’t end in disaster for you, your tenants and your neighbours?
First and foremost your tenancy agreement should lay out who is responsible for garden maintenance and what the landlord is responsible for.
If you’re concerned about the impact of use on the garden of your property, before your tenants move in, take photos of the garden so that there’s no misunderstanding on what is expected of the tenant.
We don’t mean after each time the garden is used, but at the end of the tenancy, you should take a photo of the garden and compare with your initial pre-tenancy photos. Fair wear and tear aside, the garden should look pretty similar.
Wording which is too general may not work in your favour when dealing with a dispute. Instead, be specific in your agreements about expectations and keeping the garden in “seasonal order” (ie. In order according to what is appropriate for the season)
Pruning trees, storm damage or water-table flooding (ie. Act of God), but they should be responsible for keeping borders tidy, mowing the grass or weeding.
In the event of damage or problems in the garden, a good communicative relationship between landlord and tenant will help disputes be settled quickly and smoothly.
Your tenancy agreement should make it clear that the landlord is not responsible for these things, and that the tenant will be held accountable for their behaviour.
Most changes to a garden are small, but they should still seek permission first. Changing some planting, returfing or paving may be great changes to your property but, equally, you never know someone’s taste! You should always sign off on any changes they want to make to the property. You should remind the tenant that changes that they make to the property without permission may result in the landlord charging to return the garden to its original state, this could be expensive indeed!
Your tenancy agreement should be robust enough to cover eventualities, but there’s no harm in lightly reminding your tenants of what they’re obligated to do and remind them to let you know of any concerns they have. Keep it friendly and build a great relationship, this is the most important step to avoiding tenant-landlord disputes and garden issues.
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