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Tenants and Gardens: Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 18 Apr 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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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
I have a house (my previous home) which I have rented out for several years now.All tenants love a garden front and rear.Initially I left an electric lawn,owner,all the other tools to help keep the garden neat and tidy.I found the lawnmower had been dumped out side and the tools were stolen.Needless to say the gardening had not been done and the space was a dump. It continues to be the same to this day.Has been turned into a total wilderness.In dispute now because letting agent should have noticed that the garden was being ignored.Will cost thousands to put right. Landlords don't expect tenants to respect the property
Celtic Coleen - 17-Oct-17 @ 2:36 PM
polly - Your Question:
I live in the downstairs flat of a house divided into two independent flats. The garden belongs to the upstairs flat and the courtyard to the downstairs. There is a crossover lease with each leaseholder having the freehold of the other flat. The garden is neglected, although there is a covenant stating that it is to be well-tended, and there is also a Court Order in place stating the same thing. The upstairs owner has not been around for over a year. I have texted him a number of times asking that he do the garden, with no reply. The bad state of the garden impacts on my quality of life and the value of my flat. Am I, as the landlord, allowed to do the garden myself in the face of this neglect or would it count as going into his property without permission?

Our Response:
You may wish to take legal advice regarding this. If there is a court order involved, then you can take the matter to court in order to have the order enforced. A solicitor's letter may help draw the other owner to the fact he is obligated by the court order and what the repercussions may be if he doesn't keep to the order.
ThePropertyLandlord - 28-Sep-17 @ 3:27 PM
I live in the downstairs flat of a house divided into two independent flats.The garden belongs to the upstairs flat and the courtyard to the downstairs.There is a crossover lease with each leaseholder having the freehold of the other flat.The garden is neglected, although there is a covenant stating that it is to be well-tended, and there is also a Court Order in place stating the same thing.The upstairs owner has not been around for over a year.I have texted him a number of times asking that he do the garden, with no reply.The bad state of the garden impacts on my quality of life and the value of my flat.Am I, as the landlord, allowed to do the garden myself in the face of this neglect or would it count as going into his property without permission?
polly - 26-Sep-17 @ 8:52 PM
Hi we own a Victorian house that's been converted into two flats, our tenant upstairs is requesting that we provide new space for the additional recycling bin that has been delivered to replace bags, however there is not sufficient room to put this next to the existing rubbish wheelie bin, and they say it is our responsibility to come up with a solution, do you have any suggestions? Thank you
Tree - 22-Sep-17 @ 11:59 AM
Cc17 - Your Question:
My girlfriends sister left a huge amount of rubbish in the back garden when she moved out the landlord is now trying to make my gf pay for the clean up but as its a previous tenants rubbish can he charge my gf

Our Response:
Much depends upon the terms and conditions of the contract and how your girlfriend took over the tenancy. Therefore, it makes it difficult to advise.
ThePropertyLandlord - 11-Sep-17 @ 3:55 PM
My girlfriends sister left a huge amount of rubbish in the back garden when she moved out the landlord is now trying to make my gf pay for the clean up but as its a previous tenants rubbish can he charge my gf
Cc17 - 9-Sep-17 @ 3:41 PM
@Misvalea - if you were told the rubbish will be removed you should get back on to your landlord to request this again.
Joely - 21-Aug-17 @ 12:43 PM
I've just started staying at a rental property and was told all rubbish will be removed. However there is still a HUGE amount of grass clipping branches and wood in a pile on the backyard. There also looks like food waste has been dumped in there it is far more than a trailers worth maybe 3 trailers full! I have little children who I can't allow to play in the backyard as we don't know what other junk may be in the pile also. Anyone know of landlord is legally obliged to have this removed? Or are we stuck with it there until we move
Misvalea - 20-Aug-17 @ 12:32 AM
Live in a housing association block of 4 flats. We pay a service charge for the grass to be cut. A previous tenant put up a gate either side of the flat as there had little children playing in the garden. Two of us here have children so the gate has remained. Totally accessible but they said they won't cut it anymore as they use a ride on mower and can't get out the back and we'd have to take the gate down to have it cut again. Even though still paying the same service charge. Also, they use strimmers as well as the ride on, so they would be able to come out the back. Another council only uses strimmers to cut the gardens and much bigger gardens than here. I have so far had to pay someone to cut the grass out the back myself, but should I really need to do this? Thanks
Hi - 13-Aug-17 @ 7:10 PM
I own my property but share a boundary with a council tenant. Theor garden is not maintained properly at all and is exceptionally overgrown with brambles. The tenant is in dispute with the council believing that they should maintain it as she has a two year old and the council believe she should maintain it as part of her agreement. In the meantime I am left (this has been two years of dispute) waiting until someone backs down. Is there anything I can do?
That Girl - 13-Aug-17 @ 11:58 AM
Middy - Your Question:
I live in housing association propertie and we are fully up to date witb are rent. We have had a few problems with the housing in the past in which we had to involve the environmental health to get things sorted out. The latest problems that we are having now are the fencing around the garden is totally falling apart woth hole every where. Ive spoken to tge housing and they are saying its my responsibility to erect a new fence. But surely its down to them as its there property. I maintain the garden and the property but any repairs are down to the housing to sort out.

Our Response:
You would have to look at the terms and conditions of your lease. Unless your tenancy states you are on a full repair and maintenance contract, then it is the landlord's problem to repair all property that belongs to them. However, it also depends also upon how the fence was damaged. If you damaged the fence, it would be your responsibility to repair it. But as a rule if the fence has been damaged by general wear and tear it is the landlord's responsibility.
ThePropertyLandlord - 10-Aug-17 @ 11:44 AM
I live in housing association propertie and we are fully up to date witb are rent. We have had a few problems with the housing in the past in which we had to involve the environmental health to get things sorted out. The latest problems that we are having now are the fencing around the garden is totally falling apart woth hole every where. Ive spoken to tge housing and they are saying its my responsibility to erect a new fence. But surely its down to them as its there property. I maintain the garden and the property but any repairs are down to the housing to sort out.
Middy - 9-Aug-17 @ 6:30 AM
Mam of 3 - Your Question:
I live in a council property, I pay full rent and am always up to date on my rent. I reported last year that my garden was unsafe (my youngest daughter fell and grazed all of right side of her face) they came out and deemed it unsafe but have never done anything to fix it. Yesterday she fell again and this time she required surgery to her face after a really nasty gash to her eye (she was very lucky she didnt lose her eye). Who is responsible to making the garden safe?? Do I have any grounds to say that if they dont make it safe I will talr matters further??

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms of your tenancy contract to see who is responsible for maintaining your outside space.
ThePropertyLandlord - 10-Jul-17 @ 12:32 PM
I live in a council property, i pay full rent and am always up to date on my rent. I reported last year that my garden was unsafe (my youngest daughter fell and grazed all of right side of her face) they came out and deemed it unsafe but have never done anything to fix it. Yesterday she fell again and this time she required surgery to her face after a really nasty gash to her eye (she was very lucky she didnt lose her eye). Who is responsible to making the garden safe?? Do i have any grounds to say that if they dont make it safe i will talr matters further??
Mam of 3 - 9-Jul-17 @ 7:08 PM
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