An adjudicator with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme has given advice on how to avoid disputes over gardening this summer.
Writing on the ARLA website adjudicator Michael Hill reveals that last year there were no fewer than 2,000 disputes in which gardening was cited as at least one part - that’s about 16 per cent of all tenancy deposit deduction disputes.
He says some of the disputes come about because of uncertainty over the meaning of the word ‘tidy’ - as in, the broad expectation that tenants will eventually exit the property and leave the garden in a ‘tidy’ condition.
Hill advises that tenancy agreement clauses should detail:
" - Which areas of the garden the tenants are responsible for, such as; the front garden, rear garden and any side alleys;
" - Which areas fall outside of the tenant’s remit, such as maintenance of large and independent trees or plants;
" - What state the tenant is to return the garden in – this is most likely expected to be a well-maintained state, similar to how it was at the start of the tenancy;
" - Specifically detail whether tenants must take responsibility for cutting the grass, tidying flowerbeds, and sweeping up leaves.
In addition, to minimise the risk of gardening-related disputes Hill recommends:
“ - Ensuring your tenancy agreements contain a detailed and specific clause relating to maintenance of the garden and outside areas;
“ - Taking into account the season which the tenant moves in and out of the property and how you would expect the garden to have been returned in these circumstances;
“ - Ensuring any claim proposed against the tenant’s deposit is fair and reasonable."