Published about 1 month ago

Landlords: 7 tips for protecting your garden this summer

Landlords: 7 tips for protecting your garden this summer

Did you know gardening – or a lack of it – is one of the top five reasons a landlord will make a deposit deduction, according to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme? Just as structural or cosmetic damage inside a buy-to-let can devalue a property, a neglected garden can knock thousands off a home’s value and cost vast sums to put right.  

Clarity on matters of responsibility, permissions and behaviour will help the tenant, the landlord and the property manager understand expectations and responsibilities.  

If your rental property is being let with outside space, here are our top 7 tips for protecting your garden this summer:  

Inventories should include gardens

While it’s common to fixate on documenting the condition of internal fixtures, fittings and furniture at the start of tenancy, don’t overlook outside spaces.Date stamped photographic evidence is of particular importance as it captures the condition of lawns, fences, outbuildings, hard landscaped areas and any established plants.  

Add clauses to the tenancy agreement

Clauses within a tenancy agreement allow landlords to stipulate what is and isn’t allowed at a property. We can help you create a tailored contract with particular clauses that cover outdoor areas. Clauses help protect a landlord at the end of a tenancy, especially if a renter has ignored their responsibilities as outlined in the signed agreement.  

Common and more unusual clauses can prohibit the following:  

  • the lighting of bonfires and barbecuesthe erection of trampolines and play equipment
  • the installation of a hot tub or outdoor lighting
  • the drying of laundry on balconies or in gardens
  • the keeping of poultry, avian species and small mammals, such as rabbits
  • the addition of pots on balconies 

If you want the tenant to undertake specific jobs, these can be included as clauses and may cover the requirement to:  

  • mow the lawn
  • remove weeds from beds and border
  • strimming low-growing shrubs
  • keep patios and decks free of moss and fallen leaves
  • safely remove garden waste
  • clean gutters 

Reinforce the message that issues should be flagged up

A tenancy agreement should always detail a tenant’s responsibility to flag up any issues in the garden as soon as possible, but this requirement should be reinforced whenever possible. An email reminder at the start of every new season is a sensible idea.  

Know a landlord’s legal responsibilities 

Section 11 of the Landlords & Tenants Act 1985 is clear that landlords have a legal responsibility to keep the structure of a property in good repair and this extends to gardens. Usually, a landlord is responsible for jobs that require a professional trade or specialist equipment. This can include the repair and replacement of fence panels, boundary walls, decking and patios, controlling or curtailing vermin, including wasps’ nests, the felling and lopping of tall trees, and repairing or replacing guttering, downpipes and drains.  

Consider providing some gardening equipment

Not many renters will own a full suite of gardening equipment so if you’re keen to have your garden looked after, it might be worth supplying some basic tools to encourage regular upkeep. A lawn mower, a strimmer, a jet wash and a small set of gardening tools for weeding and pruning will be appreciated. Don’t forget to include any equipment you provide in the inventory and consider where the larger items will be stored – you may have to provide a shed.  

Be clear when it comes to additions and alterations

It’s usual for tenants to seek written permission to alter or add anything to the garden so include this stipulation in the tenancy agreement and in any welcome communication. Additions and alterations can include building a pergola or garden kitchen, installing a shed, garden room or greenhouse, digging a new flower bed, removing established plants or adding a vegetable plot.   

Schedule regular outside inspections 

As with inventories, mid-term inspections should also include gardens, alleys, roof terraces, patios and balconies. Request that anything broken, overgrown or unusual be noted down, with photos for evidence.

If you are thinking of renting out a property you own, contact us for advice and an overview of current tenant demand. Properties with private outdoor space are always desirable and tend to let quickly.

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