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Tenants and Gardens: Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 26 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Tenants And Gardens: Who Is Responsible For Maintenance?

When a tenant is checking out a home, unless they are looking at a high rise flat as their preferred housing option, a well-kept garden or outside space of some description does tend to add a certain amount of extra appeal. This is quite amusing, really, given that most property landlords will agree that when it comes to the upkeep of a garden or communal area, it seems to be last on the list of priorities. Even the most conscientious tenant, who keeps a spotless house and looks after the inside of the property as if it were their own, can turn a blind eye to a weed-infected garden or unkempt lawn.

Social Housing Rules

Most council and housing association landlords have rules that specify that their tenants must keep their gardens to a ‘satisfactory standard’ as part of their tenancy agreement. What actually constitutes ‘satisfactory’ can vary from one opinion to another however and there are rarely set-out lists of things that a tenant must do in order to satisfy this clause of their agreement.

What is Reasonable to Expect from a Tenant?

If your tenants have a garden to themselves, it’s reasonable to expect them to maintain the garden themselves. Or at the very least get someone else in if they aren’t keen on gardening. The minimum you should really be able to expect from any tenant living in your property is that it should be kept litter-free, reasonably tidy and not overgrown. If there are hedges they should be kept trimmed, especially if they are likely to encroach onto neighbour’s properties or public areas. Grass should also be cut regularly.

In the case of rubbish – there could be comeback if a tenant lets rubbish build up on the property and it becomes a health and safety risk. Any build-up of litter, old furniture or rubbish can also attract vermin, which might result in even more expense getting pest controllers in to sort it out.

What if the Tenant doesn’t Garden?

It’s the experience of most property landlords that the garden is not usually kept as tidy as they might like – tenants seem to avoid gardening where possible and even a neat and tidy space can turn into an unloved weed-fest over a reasonably short period of tenancy.

If gardens are an important part of the property for you, you could follow the example of one landlord who decided the way forward was to employ a full time gardener for all of his properties. Fed up with watching his carefully designed garden spaces turn into weed-filled wilderness, he decided to employ a local gardener to carry out basic gardening duties such as hedge-cutting, lawn mowing and keeping the gardens looking tidy. This only works if all the properties have accessible gardens and an outside tap for any watering, but it is an option for anyone frustrated with the lack of effort that tenants have made to keep up the outside areas.

Some landlords take a stricter line with their tenants and prefer to stipulate that the tenant has a responsibility to look after the garden or else they will be penalised. If there is a clause in your tenancy agreement that forces your tenant to look after the garden, you can also introduce penalties for not doing so – withholding part of the deposit to pay for the garden to be tidied properly when they move out, for example.

If the garden is especially important to you, it’s probably worth going down the route of hiring a gardener, especially if you own more than one property. You could either add the cost of the gardening to the amount that you charge for rent, and offer a tenant a discount if they agree to do their own garden, or simply add it on and let the tenants know that the gardens are maintained. In many cases, having a ‘maintained’ garden will probably be a selling point so you might find that this actually works in your favour.

Another top tip is that longer term lets are a better option for garden upkeep – a short term tenant is likely to be able to turn a blind eye to the state of the back garden far more easily than someone who is there for a year or more, because most normal people get to a point where, even if they hate gardening themselves, they will get it sorted out just because they cannot bear the sight of an unkempt garden anymore!

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[Add a Comment]
@concerned owner - You would have to contact your landlord or management company to see if they are prepared to move the rubbish. Much depends upon what your terms of agreement contract states. Or the council might move it if it's fly-tipping.
Sian - 29-Jun-18 @ 12:48 PM
Can you advise who is responsible for the removal of illegally dumped rubbish in the car park assigned to the rental flat?
concerned owner - 26-Jun-18 @ 9:49 AM
Unsure - Your Question:
Hi there we were renting a property but have moved. We are currently waiting for our bond back and received a email today from the property manager with concerns over a part of the yard that has weeds and grass clippings in but cannot be accessed it is fenced off and only way to get to it would be jumping the fence. Are we liable for keeping this area clean? There were also no prior photos to show the condition of this area before moving in.

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of your tenancy agreement which will tell you what you were responsible for maintaining.
ThePropertyLandlord - 19-Jun-18 @ 2:29 PM
Hi there we were renting a property but have moved. We are currently waiting for our bond back and received a email today from the property manager with concerns over a part of the yard that has weeds and grass clippings in but cannot be accessed it is fenced off and only way to get to it would be jumping the fence. Are we liable for keeping this area clean? There were also no prior photos to show the condition of this area before moving in.
Unsure - 17-Jun-18 @ 11:51 PM
Jclarke123 - Your Question:
Hi. I rent through a housing association. Myself and neighbours were told before signing the agreement that the surrounding trees would be cut back before we moved in. Nearly 2 years on this still hasn’t been done. The trees are not on their land but all I have asked is for the branches that overhang the boundary should be cut back as I have 2 young children and feel this is not safe. Branches are almost touching the house now-it is ridiculous. I have contacted numerous people about this and nothing ever gets done. Surely it is the landlords responsibility to keep large trees cut back to the borders??

Our Response:
Your only recourse is to go through the process laid out via the link here.
ThePropertyLandlord - 4-Jun-18 @ 9:51 AM
Hi. I rent through a housing association. Myself and neighbours were told before signing the agreement that the surrounding trees would be cut back before we moved in. Nearly 2 years on this still hasn’t been done. The trees are not on their land but all I have asked is for the branches that overhang the boundary should be cut back as I have 2 young children and feel this is not safe.Branches are almost touching the house now-it is ridiculous. I have contacted numerous people about this and nothing ever gets done. Surely it is the landlords responsibility to keep large trees cut back to the borders??
Jclarke123 - 3-Jun-18 @ 12:59 PM
i live next to a privately rented property where the garden is more like a rain forest. this is becoming a problem as we share a front path. My husband spoke with the landlord today who's response was 'it's not my problem speak to the tenant'. There are mice and my cat has bought in a dead rat, where do we stand and what can we do yo make them sort out the garden. I've contacted the local council but as its privately rented they don't want to know.
ruth - 2-Jun-18 @ 6:51 PM
Hello Just want to know if having a communal garden, in a housing association property, Allows them to not attend the gardens if one sections off part of the garden but still has allowed open access at some point for others to go through...also if a fence with a gate now makes it private as opposed to communal even if other neighbours allowed access and have agreed ... The fact that it is still shared although fenced with a gate means it is still communal does it not ..and that they still need to mow lawns etc as they have been doing ?
Cas - 28-May-18 @ 11:57 AM
Kaz - Your Question:
Hi, we have been living here in a privately rented flat for 4 years. We have access to the front garden which has been badly lined andgravelled and weeds are a constant problem. We asked our landlord if he would mind us putting a lawn in at our own expense. He refused but did say he would sort out weed killer. 4 years on he has never been anywhere near with weed killer and even if he had quite frankly it’s uttely back breaking work. Last summer I decided no more, I had noticed grass growing by itself so I just looked after it and my lawn has started to thicken out that was until last weekend when the landlord turned up unannounced and sprayed the garden. My question is should he have sought my permission beforehand? I am worried that the spray may have an effect on other plants I have out there.

Our Response:
You would have to look at the terms of your tenancy agreement to find this out.
ThePropertyLandlord - 24-May-18 @ 10:00 AM
Hi, we have been living here in a privately rented flat for 4 years. We have access to the front garden which has been badly lined andgravelled and weeds are a constant problem. We asked our landlord if he would mind us putting a lawn in at our own expense. He refused but did say he would sort out weed killer. 4 years on he has never been anywhere near with weed killer and even if he had quite frankly it’s uttely back breaking work. Last summer I decided no more, I had noticed grass growing by itself so I just looked after it and my lawn has started to thicken out that was until last weekend when the landlord turned up unannounced and sprayed the garden. My question is should he have sought my permission beforehand? I am worried that the spray may have an effect on other plants I have out there.
Kaz - 23-May-18 @ 1:55 PM
Gem - Your Question:
I live in a housing association home, the garden is on a huge slope and I can't cut the grass without falling down it. I have asked them over the phone if something could be done, they said it's my responsibility to maintain it. I argued it's the steep slope which is a mound of mud that was just left there when they first built it. They said it's not their responsibility still. As it is a hazard and I can't use my garden can I take this issue further with the council?

Our Response:
You can take the matter further via the link here . Much depends upon what you agreed to when taking on the tenancy. If you agreed to maintain the garden as it was when you viewed the property - then you may not have a case. However, if the garden is visibly impossible to maintain due the HA's fault, then you may have a case to answer.
ThePropertyLandlord - 21-May-18 @ 3:43 PM
I live in a housing association home, the garden is on a huge slope and I can't cut the grass without falling down it. I have asked them over the phone if something could be done, they said it's my responsibility to maintain it. I argued it's the steep slope which is a mound of mud that was just left there when they first built it. They said it's not their responsibility still. As it is a hazard and I can't use my garden can I take this issue further with the council?
Gem - 21-May-18 @ 1:06 PM
@Sophie- if you've signed the contract to agree that you would maintain the garden, then you have to maintain the garden. But you can write to complain if you were told otherwise.
JillN - 14-May-18 @ 3:43 PM
Hi, when I viewed the property I have now moved into I was told by the estate agent that the maintenance of the garden which is shared with one other flat is included included within the rent. However a week after I moved in I received an email from the the agent saying I was expected to maintain the garden myself. The contract i have signed states “to keep the garden in the same condition as at the commencement of tenancy and to cut the grass regularly during the growing season.” It also however states “to allow any person authorised by the landlord or agent access to the premises for the purpose of attending to the garden”. As I had already been told the garden would be maintained I assumed this last sentence was what I was signing up to. Under garden in the inventory it states N/A which again Confirmed to me that I wouldn’t be responsible for it and there was no mention of the tenant being liable for it during the check in process. The agent didn’t take any pictures of the garden either. Do I have a case to argue that I shouldn’t have to maintain the garden? I specifically asked the question during my viewing as I was actively avoiding properties with gardens.
Sophie - 13-May-18 @ 11:33 PM
Roki - Your Question:
Hi ya, when I moved in the garden was in a state and the landlord said they would out right when I moved in and they haven't it's still full of old rubbish and extremely over grown and is now refusing to do anything about it despite complaints from the naughbours.Where do I stand?

Our Response:
You can see more via the Shelter link here, which will inform you of some options.
ThePropertyLandlord - 19-Apr-18 @ 11:50 AM
Hi ya, when I moved in the garden was in a state and the landlord said they would out right when I moved in and they haven't it's still full of old rubbish and extremely over grown and is now refusing to do anything about it despite complaints from the naughbours. Where do I stand?
Roki - 18-Apr-18 @ 7:51 PM
@Weedsaremylife - I'd write to the landlord and explain your predicament. If the landlord does nothing, then your only choice is to move on to a home more suitable to your needs when your agreement ends. I'm sure if you are a good tenant in every other way, your landlord won't wish you to leave. It sounds like the problem will be ongoing whoever lives there.
MaN - 16-Apr-18 @ 12:45 PM
Hi, does anybody know where i stand with my landlord. We moved into a property that is entirely gravelled. We were told it had been lined and gravelled so would be low maintenance. However, weeds sprung up almost immediately like a sea of cress and I took days off to get it sorted because the landlord rang our agents to complain to us about it. On closer inspection the gravel she has used is full of soil so it wasn't clean gravel to start with. It's spring now and the weeds are worse than before and I'm spending all my free time weeding it. I have sciatica so it's excruciating but I don't know what to do. I've spent lots of money on weed killer, sprayers, all sorts but it's not helped. I've even sprayed it all turned it over with a rake and sprayed it again. I asked the agent if she could ask the landlord to help or to compromise and was told she won't because she's already paid to have it lined and gravelled. The gravel used was full of soil so of course it sprung weeds! I don't know what to do, if i give up and let it get weedy it then I'll get penalised when I move out surely? Do I legally have to keep it weed free? Do I have to employ a gardener? I wish it was a lawn, I actually like mowing grass, much easier. Any advice greatly appreciated.
Weedsaremylife - 14-Apr-18 @ 1:36 PM
@Becky - Unless you can negotiate with your landlord mutually, then either you or your landlord can take the matter to the small claim's court. In reality, they are two separate issues which are not really connected. So, it can be construed that your landlord is in the right as to the terms of the contract.
Tess - 23-Mar-18 @ 10:59 AM
In June 2017 I emailed the estate agent to tell them that the decking in our back garden was rotten and that it needs fixing, they said they would look into it and contact the landlord. Later they got back to me saying that they had contacted contractors to come a quote. After a while we requested it be looked into again as by this point the weather was turning for winter and nobody had come to have a look at it. We had two different contractors turn up with no prior warning, they took measurements and then in December we had contact from the agency saying that because the weather was too bad it would be left until the new year. At this point there were holes appearing in the decking and it was unsafe for us or the dogs to use. The decking is directly outside the back door with a drop underneath it. In the new year we were told that a garden company was coming out to fix all of the decking in the garden. One man arrived with little materials and was going to just patch up the wholes. i called the estate agent whilst he was on site and they sent him away as they had been quoted for the while garden. The gardener himself took more measurements and left telling us it was all rotten and not worth patching. After some more time we got told that the landlord was looking at different contractors and taking the originals to court. Nothing more was done, we had had enough and started looking to move.We found another property with no decking and I gave my months notice. Now they are trying to get me to pay another months rent on top of my notice as it was two days out of the rental period. They have had a viewing for the property, they told the estate agent that they wouldn't take the property as the garden was unsafe. After all the aggro i have asked the landlord to release us from the responsibility of the property after the one months notice and they said only if they get another tenant and i would have to pay a fee. So they have just sent the original gardeners back around to give ANOTHER quote. My question is am i within my right to not pay any early leaving fee and an extra months rent as they have not stuck to their side of the contract in fixing any structural fixtures within the property? 9 Months and the Garden is still not safe. The landlord came around in Jan to have a look at it and her husband almost fell on the decking as it is so slippery and rotten. He said he would first of make it safe. Yet Nothing Three months later?
Becky - 22-Mar-18 @ 3:17 PM
We have just moved out of a property where the only clause relating to the garden is that it must be kept “clean, tidy and free from rubbish”. The landlord is trying to take £225 from our deposit: £125 saying that a gardener was needed to make tidy (I have pics dated the day before tenancy ended that show a tidy garden in my opinion!), £30 for moss killer because of green decking and sleeper bed walls - again I have pics showing none green decking and minimal green to sleepers which also form part of the path in the garden (his responsibility?!) and £60 for new turf. This is based on 12 square meters (area actually measures 8) and there is grass there just some thinning where it literally won’t grow because it’s behind bushes so never dries out! What are our chances of getting some of the money back? I’m livid!
SteeleyC - 14-Mar-18 @ 10:33 PM
Jammers87 - Your Question:
About to move out of a property that I've rented for 2 years and now going through a dispute over the garden. I've signed this :13. Garden (if any) 13.1. To keep the garden, window boxes and patios if any in the same condition and style as at the commencement of the Tenancy. 13.2. To keep the window boxes borders, paths, and patios, if any, in good order and weeded. 13.3. To cut the grass regularly during the growing season. The main issue is the front and rear gardens have accumulated over time a moss undergrowth. The landlord wants us to pay for an entirely new garden lawn and landscape as the moss was not there when we moved in 2 years ago. As per the contract it states that the grass is to be cut in growing season. But there's nothing about me forking out hundreds of pounds to have grass relayed. Or paying for someone to maintain it for me. Do I have a case to dispute?

Our Response:
If the lawn was in perfect condition when you took the property on, then your landlord can request it is put back to that condition (clause 13.1). If you can have the moss treated and bring the garden back to the same condition as prior to you moving in, then a replacement lawn would be unneccessary. However, your landlord does have a case i.e 'same condition and style as at the commencement of the tenancy'.
ThePropertyLandlord - 8-Mar-18 @ 2:57 PM
About to move out of a property that I've rented for 2 years and now going through a dispute over the garden. I've signed this : 13. Garden (if any) 13.1. To keep the garden, window boxes and patios if any in the same condition and style as at the commencement of the Tenancy. 13.2. To keep the window boxes borders, paths, and patios, if any, in good order and weeded. 13.3. To cut the grass regularly during the growing season. The main issue is the front and rear gardens have accumulated over time a moss undergrowth. The landlord wants us to pay for an entirely new garden lawn and landscape as the moss was not there when we moved in 2 years ago. As per the contract it states that the grass is to be cut in growing season. But there's nothing about me forking out hundreds of pounds to have grass relayed. Or paying for someone to maintain it for me. Do I have a case to dispute?
Jammers87 - 6-Mar-18 @ 11:13 PM
Wizardora - Your Question:
Hello, we have just moved into a rented, detached house which has aproximately half an acre of lawns to be cut and boarders to be tended to. This is the first house with a garden, that hadn't provided gardening equipment! Is it unreasonable to expect the landlord to provide it's equipment for us to keep on top of the gardens?

Our Response:
The information regarding whether your landlord provides tools or not, will be contained in your lease. There is no specific obligation.
ThePropertyLandlord - 13-Feb-18 @ 2:28 PM
Hello, we have just moved into a rented, detached house which has aproximately half an acre of lawns to be cut and boarders to be tended to. This is the first house with a garden, that hadn't provided gardening equipment! Is it unreasonable to expect the landlord to provide it's equipment for us to keep on top of the gardens?
Wizardora - 13-Feb-18 @ 2:33 AM
LuckyStar89 - Your Question:
Hi, We are currently renting privately. The garden was a state when we moved in, and we have done a lot of work to it to make it better including putting down turf where the grass was just mud. My partner has a car which has broken, it is on our private drive and has been for a couple of weeks. We need to repair it at some point (it’s not a smashed up eyesore, it has a coolant issue and a flat tyre) but are saving up the money to do it. The landlord has requested we have this moved within 7 days. Are they within their rights to make us get rid of the car rather than wait to repair it?

Our Response:
The garden issue is irrelevant in this case, as it is a separate issue. Much depends upon what it says within the terms your lease, which should offer the answer.
ThePropertyLandlord - 25-Jan-18 @ 10:15 AM
Hi, We are currently renting privately. The garden was a state when we moved in, and we have done a lot of work to it to make it better including putting down turf where the grass was just mud. My partner has a car which has broken, it is on our private drive and has been for a couple of weeks. We need to repair it at some point (it’s not a smashed up eyesore, it has a coolant issue and a flat tyre) but are saving up the money to do it. The landlord has requested we have this moved within 7 days. Are they within their rights to make us get rid of the car rather than wait to repair it?
LuckyStar89 - 24-Jan-18 @ 12:24 PM
Jo - Your Question:
Need advice - I'm a single mother who lives alone with my 3 year old daughter and my landlord is getting on at me over minor over grown thorns in the back I haven't long moved in and I'm trying my best to redecorate, be a mother and do the school run and then work so I'm finding it hard to prioritise the back garden I'm also unsure of where I could put this as I don't have a brown bin and I don't drive to be able to take to a skip. Personally I do not think it's an issue that needs ammidiatly attending too its in nobody's way and my low income couldn't afford to get anyone out to it atm with Christmas and daughters birthday coming up. Do I have a right to tell him to cut me some slack and allow me to do it when I have time and money to buy the gardening tools and then do it ?

Our Response:
Much depends upon what is in the terms of your rental agreement. Your landlord should clearly state within the agreement what is expected of the you as the tenant and also any restrictions that may be imposed if you do not keep to the terms. If you agreed to maintain the garden when taking the property, then your landlord can insist that you do. You as the tenant will be responsible for maintaining the garden regularly and returning it in the same state that it was in when you moved in. Your deposit can be used to recover some of the costs that might occur due to damage or neglect.
ThePropertyLandlord - 13-Nov-17 @ 12:30 PM
Need advice -I'm a single mother who lives alone with my 3 year old daughter and my landlord is getting on at me over minor over grown thorns in the back I haven't long moved in and I'm trying my best to redecorate, be a mother and do the school run and then work so I'm finding it hard to prioritise the back garden I'm also unsure of where I could put this as I don't have a brown bin and I don't drive to be able to take to a skip. Personally I do not think it's an issue that needs ammidiatly attending too its in nobody's way and my low income couldn't afford to get anyone out to it atm with Christmas and daughters birthday coming up. Do I have a right to tell him to cut me some slack and allow me to do it when I have time and money to buy the gardening tools and then do it ?
Jo - 13-Nov-17 @ 2:37 AM
@Celtic Coleen - Landlords and agents ignoring what state the tenants are letting their properties get into is bringing down neighbourhoods. I'm on this page because I own my house, but my neighbours have let their own garden become a wilderness and it is so upsetting for me. The road I live in used to be lovely and well cared for. Now because of landlords buying up the properties because they are not expensive, the road has gone into a terrible decline. No, landlords don't expect tenants to respect their property and it is such a shame. If it wasn't for private landlords with second/third and many homes there would be plenty of 'affordable housing' in this country that young people could buy instead of renting. Sorry for the rant, but everyone just seems so out for themselves these days and what they can acquire without a thought to anyone else!
LizG - 19-Oct-17 @ 4:08 PM
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