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Tenants and Gardens: Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 27 May 2020 | 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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I live in first floorflat 8 flats in the block Been here 6 years now gardensbut housingassociation did put a seating area (a bench) Whichhas been damaged from previoustenants But this year decided toput some plants in pots to brightenup the area Using the outside tap to water them 2 weeks later housinghave turned off the external water I really don'tunderstand how wateringa few plants warrants this Very upset
Cookie - 27-May-20 @ 10:46 PM
I am a secured tenant and I have been in the property for over 6 six years. I am in a secured tenancy it has a whole garden for myself and I live in a ground floor masionette. The neighbour upstairs does not have a garden. In my tenancy it states I need to maintain the garden. Can the council partition half my garden, so the neighbour upstairs can have it. The tenancy for upstairs will state no garden. the neighbours on my left have half a garden, but the neighbours on the right all ground floor flat masionette has there own garden and upstairs has no garden. Can you please advise and what I can do. Thanks
Lee - 5-May-20 @ 6:38 PM
I rent a 3 bed house with Waterloo housing asosiation. I have a small garden with 4 over grown silver birch trees, they are blocking sun light into my kitchen. Do I need permission to cut them down&pull them out or can I just go ahead with the task. X
Criggy - 25-Apr-20 @ 2:59 PM
Hiya when we first looked are proterty back 5 months ago landlord promise the garden would be cleaned and made use able but hasn't kept too this the garden is a mess and I don't mean long grass and weeds
Cher - 21-Apr-20 @ 6:53 PM
Me, my wife and 17 month babe been living in our council flat for about a year half now, the neighbours have been quite the nightmare to put it politely, smoking week there 11 year dropping cee you next Tuesday words and doean't slam doors she slams door repeatedly. Slamming doors about six times in a row and screaming, we have complained to the housing officer and she has ignored our emails and ignored our complaints. There is a slope that joins along the steps, because It goes through her garden they have decided that we can no longer use that path any more. And the sad thing is that the housing officer and council are agreeing with her despite my wife being 19 weeks pregnant
Matt - 11-Mar-20 @ 4:23 PM
I live in a block of 6 council flats with a communal garden. One tenant has part of it completely fenced off which also includes a side gate for access to the block. Is this illegal?
Rosie - 8-Mar-20 @ 5:52 PM
hi i am in h\a\house and a tree in the back garden h\a\ sent me a nasty letter saying they need to cut it down 40% that will make it to hot in the garden in the summer & i will get blazzing sun through the windowsmy eyes suffer with strong sun light so i will have to were sun glasses in the kitchen & dining room .i think the reason theyreally want to cut it down is a neighbour 4 doors up said its spoilingher satalite picture .but this neighbour we had a problem with she was in my next door neighbour gardenand she swore at us sayilng them f ___trees are coming down.t his letter says i am breaching my tenacy if i dont have it chopped down .also i have a tall conifer tree can they make me chop it help and avice needed s
jem - 29-Nov-19 @ 8:59 PM
We live in a housing association flat. 7 years ago we got written permission from the landlord to garden a bed on the edge of our carpark area - we would plant & maintain the area, at our expense, ie no cost to them; and they would leave the area to us to do this. A month ago I came home to find the landlord's maintenance men had been round. They trimmed the hedges that we don't maintain to 3-4ft; but took a hedge trimmer to our (obviously differently planted) area, chopping it, indiscriminately, down to a few inches high. There was no warning, no reason given. Some of the shrubs are unlikely to recover. I believe this to be criminal damage, and since they took away the cuttings, theft. The police say as it was the landlord's land they are perfectly entitled to do this. Is that the case?
john - 27-Nov-19 @ 5:46 PM
I've just rented a cottage that was advertised as own rear garden,but there is a path right thru it ,so neighbour's can walk through it, it leads to exactly to the same place as the front path ,at front of house ,I have the neighbour's dog crapping in my part of garden kids running around ruining all my solar powered lights, so therefore is it not a communal garden ???? So angry as hml lettings did not state this when we was viewing it
Dee - 19-Nov-19 @ 7:12 PM
I live in a council property and when I initially saw it the garden was cut down with rubble glass etc left at the top of the garden it's now 4 years later and my garden is now rife with weeds as I could not clear all weeds due to rubble. I have been to Mps several times and now court however even though the council are liable they are only willing to do the minimum which will leave me in same place because my solicitor said I had no chance at winning in court.
Char - 28-Oct-19 @ 3:07 PM
I’m renting a ground floor flat. I am the only one with access to the garden and My landlord said if I work too much I need to employ someone to do the garden for me. Is that the responsibility of the estate agent to pay for this or do I have to pay out of my own pocket?
Kat2408 - 3-Oct-19 @ 1:35 PM
I live in a converted house, there are two flats, ground floor and first floor, the landlord is a housing assosiation, on my tenancy agreement it states i have no garden, the tenant downstairs complained that i do not maintain the front garden, the housing officer turned up and said i have to maintain the garden as it is shared, he said as my refuse bins are in the front garden it is classed as a shared area, i only use the path to enter the building, the path is in the centre of the garden, i explained that i am willing to sweep the path and keep my bin area clean but he insists i have to maintain the garden to which i refused, who is right?
East - 16-Aug-19 @ 2:09 PM
I am renting a property with a large garden with tall mature trees that need attention Am I responsible for the cost of a tree surgeon or should the landlord pay for this service? I’m maintaining the garden at my own expense but quote for the trees are expensive
Jay - 14-Jul-19 @ 2:11 PM
I live in a ground floor housing association flat. we have a communal garden that all tenants have to pay for the upkeep which only means cutting the grass. Shrugs rose bushes I just ignored My problem is that the garden is open to and used by the public. Is it right then that tenants have to pay for the upkeep of the garden thank you
Ros - 7-Jul-19 @ 3:25 PM
I have stayed in my home for over 20 years , we have been taken over by a housing association , they cut the grass but have neglected it this year due to heavy rain , it is waist high with weeds , what are my rights do I need to cut it of leave it for them , I have arthritis of the spine so I also pay a lower rent than some due to being an excitant tenant from previous housing before take over
Zeus’s - 26-Jun-19 @ 2:13 PM
I am currently renting a house, I would like the garden to be user friendly and easy to maintain, Is there any rules around digging shrubs and plants up and making the area minimalistic
James1965 - 19-May-19 @ 4:58 AM
I live in a studio flat apart of a housing association i have to pay 40 per mth for the garen an grpunds which i dont use do i have a point to make a issuie
Dr - 25-Apr-19 @ 12:22 AM
I have been renting a property for 5 years and about to move out. Despite asking the landlord for 2 years to fix a very dangerously broken garage door which has stopped me being able to safely access and lock the garage, he never gas fixed it. In order to move my belongings out of the garage, i have had to prop the garage door open with a 2 meter long piece of wood. When moving stuff the door, unexpectedly, fell almost hitting me on the head. Is it legal that the landlord can just neglect to fix the garage door? Also, the letting agents have warned us that the landlord has made comments about ensuring he gets all the deposit. We have looked after the property for the full 5 years of tenancy despite our landlord not fixing the front door for over a year so we couldn’t access the property via the front door, not supplying window keys to lock the windows, not fix the garage door, not sufficiently fixing the boundary fence, not fixing fixtures and fittings without us pestering. Could he take our deposit?
?????? - 23-Apr-19 @ 10:15 PM
I have been renting a property for 5 years and about to move out. Despite asking the landlord for 2 years to fix a very dangerously broken garage door which has stopped me being able to safely access and lock the garage, he never gas fixed it. In order to move my belongings out of the garage, i have had to prop the garage door open with a 2 meter long piece of wood. When moving stuff the door, unexpectedly, fell almost hitting me on the head. Is it legal that the landlord can just neglect to fix the garage door? Also, the letting agents have warned us that the landlord has made comments about ensuring he gets all the deposit. We have looked after the property for the full 5 years of tenancy despite our landlord not fixing the front door for over a year so we couldn’t access the property via the front door, not supplying window keys to lock the windows, not fix the garage door, not sufficiently fixing the boundary fence, not fixing fixtures and fittings without us pestering. Could he take our deposit?
?????? - 23-Apr-19 @ 10:14 PM
I live in an housing association bungalow sheltered housing,the hedge is growing onto a pavement and it's a busy road,I ask them to pleasetrim the hedge as they do for other bungalows . But I was told I don't have the right tenancy agreement . I have lived here for 5 years they say it's up to me to look after it can you help me please
Smae - 4-Apr-19 @ 1:44 PM
We moved to a property where the garden had no grass, was overgrown and full of stones. We cleaned it, planted grass and painted the shed. At the end there is a pile of rocks, which attracts stingy nettles during the summer and is difficult to maintain. We asked the landlord to clean it and the message through the agent was the rocks belong to the landlord and she wants to keep them there. We think she does not want to pay for the cleaning and that’s why she says to keep them there. Do landlords have the right to require from tenants to keep their mess in the garden? Thank you.
Guest - 26-Jan-19 @ 8:06 AM
My gardens are clean and gone. But I have old magazines and books in boxes in a locked outshed. Because the neighbor has had 41st problems....(which I havnt)..the council made me open my shed and coz it's stacked high with Xmas decs and wedding gifts....apparently I'm in breach of my tenancy agreement? They now expect me to put all my books and 700 magazine's into plastic boxes. Although if there are rats in my shed then a plastic box will be no bother as 1 rat. ?? last year ate Thro my black wheelie binkid while outside.
Gringo - 29-Nov-18 @ 11:17 PM
Hello, I'm looking for advice. My landlord wants to take £200from deposit for "grass slightygrown" in garden,but I hadn't any mover or equipment for taking care of garden. Futhermore garden was in the same condition like we mooved in (in my opinion).Who's right in this case?
Hanna - 22-Nov-18 @ 7:34 PM
I am in a rented property and have responsibility for the garden. During the storms one of the big trees blew over. No damage was caused is it my responsibility to get this removed? Or is this something the landlord should do through their insurance?
Kelly - 10-Nov-18 @ 12:56 PM
I have a Tennant at the minute who had a greed at the time of leasing to look after the garden shed and wooden gates at the side of the property.It didn't mention the upkeep in the tenancy agreement but we had included it in the signed inventory that they were to be maintained. Does this signed inventory carry any weight as part of an agreement?
Darren L - 10-Oct-18 @ 10:06 AM
I am a tenant in a housing association house and have lived here for over 20 years. When I moved in there was a small tree in the garden. It has now grown into a large tree (eucalyptus). I have had a visit from a association worker who said I must have it removed. Even though it was already here when I moved in I got quotes for the work and was shocked. The quotes are around £1600. I am a 72 year old pensioner who does sleep over this because I don't have that sort of money.
Worried - 3-Oct-18 @ 9:18 PM
Hello I need some advice before I write to my landlord regarding use of the garden. I have recently moved into a property and was told on visiting that the garden was for my sole use. After moving I had some issues with dumped items outside my property which leads to the garden, and got the H.A to remove it. The person who dumped it decided he was going to continue to leave things outside my property, and we got into a small spat where he said, the garden is shared use. I called the H.A it turns out I signed the tenancy without reading the whole thing, and it does in fact say shared use. My issue is this, the garden is small and my kitchen door leads straight out into the garden. The path to the garden goes right past my bedroom window and I have my teenage daughter living with me, as I am a single parent family. Bearing in mind that he can bring anyone he pleases into the garden does this mean I must have my curtains closed at all times? Before I found out about the tenancy, I was going to put up a gate a few yards in ahead of my door as we are in a vulnerable position being a side entrance. Not one of the houses on my road, with a side entrance, is without some sort of fence or brickwork as a security measure. I should feel safe and comfortable in my home, but I would be worried if my daughter was in the back garden sunbathing by herself. In my old flat the garden was huge so all 3 flats had access to the garden if they wanted to use it, but in order to do so, we walked past a small toilet window which was high up. Is there a minimum size for a garden to be shared, and are there any rules around privacy. Everybody I have spoken to seems to think the garden usually belongs to the ground floor flat but need help with all points. Thank you
essie - 19-Sep-18 @ 10:41 AM
@Smiler19 - has the neighbour not contributed? I think I would have left it and if the neighbour wanted a fence, the neighbour could have got one, or at least asked you to go halves. I'm sure the HA do put up fences. I'm sure all HA properties are not fenceless! I'd try and claim it back.
AussieV - 10-Aug-18 @ 11:03 AM
I’ve been a tennent to a housing association for 20 yrs but next door is a private house, the previous neighbor and myself got on well so we never bothered putting fences up just planted for privacy, now she has moved out, and I have had to have someone come in and remove a lot of overgrown plants as I can’t manage the garden the same ( health wise) but now it’s is open, I was told that I’m responsible for putting up the fence, I contacted the housing and got told We Don’t Do Fences, if the neighbor wants it tell them to move the boundary, but fear of falling out with neighbors I’ve used £605 of my little savings and paid for them plus to have the garden sorted. I always knew I was responsible for the garden so happy to do this. But people are saying the housing should be responsible for fence. Is this right? I can only see upkeep/ presentable garden on tenancy agreement. Any help would be appreciated.
Smiler19 - 9-Aug-18 @ 4:42 PM
Hi, we have just moved into a rented property, we have the basement flat with sole use of the garden. Upon deweeding and clearing the garden (completely overgrown and unkept) I’ve discovered that there is a lot of broken glass and rubble that has been left by the landlord (I believe they may have been paid to have topsoil/mud and waste dumped on the raised part of the garden). Due to this it’s not possible for us to plant grass or use the soil area of garden (making up 75% of the garden) due to the risk cutting ourselves like I did while Deweeding. Is the landlord responsible for making sure the garden is safe for us to use?
Wills - 29-Jul-18 @ 9:31 PM
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