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Tenants and Gardens: Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 22 Jul 2017 | 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]
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
Ishtar - Your Question:
I live in a rented house with garden, the landlord ask in the contract to do the garden regularly. I ask him for the tools to do it bur he is refusing to do it saying that the contract never say that he will provide the tools to do it. But it doesnt say that he wont. Now the grass is over grown and the hedges are going to public property. When I moved the hedges were overgrown already. I think the minimun he should do is give me the tools to do the garden?Also he is not fixing anything and he rented me the house with rubbish and mould.What do you think I can do?

Our Response:
Your landlord is under no obligation to supply you with the tools to keep the garden under control. If the contract specifies it is your responsibility, you are responsible for finding the means whether that means paying someone else or doing the job yourself . Please see Shelter link here which shows you the options to consider and steps to take to get repairs done if and where your private landlord won't.
ThePropertyLandlord - 6-Jul-17 @ 10:41 AM
I live in a rented house with garden, the landlord ask in the contract to do the garden regularly. I ask him for the tools to do it bur he is refusing to do it saying that the contract never say that he will provide the tools to do it. But it doesnt say that he wont. Now the grass is over grownand the hedges are going to public property. When I moved the hedges were overgrown already. I think the minimun he should do is give me the tools to do the garden? Also he is not fixing anything and he rented me the house with rubbish and mould. What do you think I can do?
Ishtar - 4-Jul-17 @ 2:00 PM
Jodz - Your Question:
Hi, I live in a private rented property. The house has a rear garage which we have no access to as it is rented to someone else. The garage has a decking built above it which is very unsafe. Spindles missing and very unstable. When we spoke to the landlord about this the response was that it is our responsibility as tennants to maintain it. ( this decking was a wreck before we moved in) what are our rights in regards to the garage and the work needed on the decking?

Our Response:
Please see the Shelter link here which will give you more information regarding your options.
ThePropertyLandlord - 30-Jun-17 @ 1:41 PM
Hi, I live in a private rented property. The house has a rear garage which we have no access to as it is rented to someone else. The garage has a decking built above it which is very unsafe. Spindles missing and very unstable. When we spoke to the landlord about this the response was that it is our responsibility as tennants to maintain it. ( this decking was a wreck before we moved in) what are our rights in regards to the garage and the work needed on the decking?
Jodz - 28-Jun-17 @ 10:06 PM
Shell - Your Question:
I live in a private rented flat with my partner, we have no garden but outside the lounge window there is a small piece of land which my Landlords business is attached to, in fact he can look straight into our window which is very intimidating.Since Oct last year we cut back the buddleia bush and they wasn't very happy, now it has completely blocked out our natural light to the lounge and as you can imagine peeing us off, will I be prosecuted cutting it back although I know it is the wrong time of year but it is a hardy shrub.Please any advice would be helpfulThank youShell

Our Response:
You would really have to discuss this directly with your landlord and try to come to some sort of compromise/agreement between you. This is the best approach rather than taking matters in your own hands, especially if the plant is on his land. However, if you cannot resolve this issue between you, then by law if the branches of a neighbour’s plant starts to grow over to your side, you can cut them back to the boundary point between you and your neighbour’s property. You cannot be prosecuted for this.
ThePropertyLandlord - 23-Jun-17 @ 2:38 PM
I live in a private rented flat with my partner, we have no garden but outside the lounge window there is a small piece of land which my Landlords business is attached to, in fact he can look straight into our window which is very intimidating. Since Oct last year we cut back the buddleia bush and they wasn't very happy, now it has completely blocked out our natural light to the lounge and as you can imagine peeing us off, will I be prosecuted cutting it back although I know it is the wrong time of year but it is a hardy shrub. Please any advice would be helpful Thank you Shell
Shell - 21-Jun-17 @ 4:45 PM
My garden has no fence boundaries, just overgrown bushes. This was not a problem before with an elderly neighbour, but now with a toddler and new neighbours (who talk loudly about getting arrested with a gun and smoke weed)I would like my garden secured. Is this something my landlord would have to pay for?
BusyBee - 21-Jun-17 @ 2:57 PM
annoyed - Your Question:
I have a privately rented upper floor masionnette and me and the neighbour who is in a council house, keeps using our garden and have a gate leading into it. are they aloud to do this ? they have their own allocated which was originally fenced off but they added the gate. tried to ask my landlord but they've never got back to me.

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of your rental agreement. Or you would need to continue to request this information from your landlord.
ThePropertyLandlord - 20-Jun-17 @ 2:20 PM
i have a privately rented upper floor masionnette and me and the neighbour who is in a council house, keeps using our garden and have a gate leading into it. are they aloud to do this ? they have their own allocated which was originally fenced off but they added the gate. tried to ask my landlord but they've never got back to me.
annoyed - 19-Jun-17 @ 7:30 PM
Is a landlord allowed to charge for planting new plants? Originally witholding £200 for garden work, she has now dropped that down to £150. Struggling to get itemised invoices for the garden work. It includes weeding, mowing and planting of some kind. The property was never weeded to begin with and is stated on the condition report as not weeded. Can this legally be deducted from the deposit?
SJ - 5-Jun-17 @ 5:45 AM
littlelady123 - Your Question:
I have mental health priblems and to feel more safer I have put a fence up around my home there was originally an open fence but I didn't feel safe now my housing association are telling me to get it down I was a victim of a severe armed robbery and needed to feel safe at home what can I do do I have to take fence down plz help

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of your tenancy agreement to see what it says regarding the changes you can and can't make and what you can and cannot do to the property in terms of improvements.
ThePropertyLandlord - 18-May-17 @ 2:13 PM
I have mental health priblems and to feel more safer I have put a fence up around my home there was originally an open fence but I didn't feel safe now my housing association are telling me to get it down I was a victim of a severe armed robbery and needed to feel safe at home what can i do do I have to take fence down plz help
littlelady123 - 18-May-17 @ 11:25 AM
@Tippy - It is the tenant's responsibility if the tenant is living in the house. If the house is empty, then it becomes the landlord's responsibility to remove the rubbish. So you might want to go straight to the tenant and if they refuse contact environmental health. Iz.
IST76 - 28-Apr-17 @ 2:12 PM
Hi my naighbours have rented a house from a private landlord and they have a pile of mattresses and rubbish that is starting to stink and attracting mice and poss rats. in the garden we have told the landlord once and he has done nothing. What else can. Be done.we have bought our home a spend a lot of time in our garden but this is getting to much
Tippy - 27-Apr-17 @ 9:50 PM
I'm exchanging to the top council flat. All other tenants living in the other flats have all got shared gardens. The tenant on the bottom flat, has taken ownership of all the garden, and also the land at the side of my front door. I have no storage for my bins. And no where to hang out my washing. When the tenant I'm exchanging with 1st moved into this flat. She shared the back garden, and owned one side of the front garden. The tenant has bullied this person, since moving in. 3years ago. She has been so scared to report him to the council. As She is a single mum. The council is making it difficult for our exchange to go through, because she of this dispute. The council wants me to sign the garden over for his use only. How can I prove to him and the council, it's a shared garden.
Trace - 27-Apr-17 @ 7:24 PM
Hi i recently brought my housing association house and a few years ago the drains blocked and raw sewerage backed up into our garden via our sink waste drain! Anyway its happened again i was told by the man that came out last time its my neighbours putting rags? And such like in the loo and there is a lip on the drain and all sewerage backs up on to it and eventually it will back up my drain! So what do i do now why should i fork out for my neighbours that live in housing association propertys and its most likely there doing! the man hole isnt on my property its in a car park about 500yrds away but as im the last property in the chain i get all the s***
Bex - 23-Apr-17 @ 10:39 AM
Rose- Your Question:
My daughter is about to rent private accommodation. There is a small garden. The landlord is requiring her to mow it but will not provide a mower. Is this legal?

Our Response:
If it is part of the terms of the contract that your daughter (by signing) agrees to, then she will have to keep to those terms. Her landlord does not have to provide a mower, this will be up to your daughter to arrange.
ThePropertyLandlord - 20-Apr-17 @ 11:24 AM
My daughter is about to rent private accommodation.There is a small garden. The landlord is requiring her to mow it but will not provide a mower. Is this legal?
Rose - 19-Apr-17 @ 4:43 PM
My daughter lives in private rented student housing with 7 others. The garden has not been addressed ( overgrown/ rubbish from previous tenants) The landlord said back in Sept 16 that he would clear it - it still hasn't been done. Can they collectively do anything?
Glig - 19-Apr-17 @ 10:20 AM
Rin - Your Question:
We live in a flat above our landlady as lodgers (its a converted house). There is a garden but we rarely if ever use it as access is only through the landlady's flat and we don't have a key ourselves so we have to ask to be let in and are restricted to times when she is in the house. She is now telling us we must put in so many hours per month garden maintenance or be charged £50 extra per month. There is nothing regarding the garden in our contracts. I want to be sure where to stand on this. I don't mind helping out occasionally but it came very out of the blue and I don't really know what to think. Especially given that in a year and a half of living here I've used the garden on just three days.

Our Response:
If there is nothing contained in the terms of your lease regarding garden maintenance, then there is little your landlady can do to force you to pay for this. However, it might be worth weighing this up against the length of your tenancy. Your landlady could give you the required notice near the end of the period if she chooses and make this a term of any new agreement she draws up with the new tenants.
ThePropertyLandlord - 10-Apr-17 @ 2:13 PM
We live in a flat above our landlady as lodgers (its a converted house). There is a garden but we rarely if ever use it as access is only through the landlady's flat and we don't have a key ourselves so we have to ask to be let in and are restricted to times when she is in the house. She is now telling us we must put in so many hours per month garden maintenance or be charged £50 extra per month. There is nothing regarding the garden in our contracts. I want to be sure where to stand on this. I don't mind helping out occasionally but it came very out of the blue and I don't really know what to think. Especially given that in a year and a half of living here I've used the garden on just three days.
Rin - 9-Apr-17 @ 8:02 PM
My girlfriend was building a patio out off wood in her commonlaw garden..she's looked after this garden since she moved in 3years ago. A jobs worth person came from the local council telling her to remove it ..two weeks later a council can turned up ripped it up and took plant pots too, without her permissionis this theft ...as the took the law into there own hands help plz on this
oggy - 2-Apr-17 @ 3:21 PM
We live in an housing association property.There is a large dead tree which is falling into our garden from a lane that runs alongside the garden. Who's responsibility is it to arrange and find out who is responsible for the removal of the tree?
Tiny - 31-Mar-17 @ 11:18 AM
I live in a rented property and there is a patch of grass in front of my lounge window.The landlord said it's communal grass and the kids are playing on it.They are invading my privacy
Madmart - 27-Mar-17 @ 9:04 PM
Have moved into a housing association place with my own garden.The previous tennant left a raised patch of ground with dead pets buried in it.. who is responsible for the removal of them?
Sue - 26-Mar-17 @ 7:52 PM
Hello, I have moved into a privately-rented property with a communal garden shared with in excess of 10 flats. The landlord has placed plants outside the flat and while I did my best to keep them in good shape, some of them have inevitably perished. The agreement has a general clause stipulating that if the flat has a garden it should be kept tidy,which it is apart from these plant, however as this is a communal garden, there is a management company employed by the freeholder and the flat is leasehold, is the landlord entitled to claim any compensation?
Steve - 20-Mar-17 @ 9:49 PM
LEE - Your Question:
I have just moved into a council property (3 bed house) when we moved in was winter time so the back garden was frosted over and iced so looked alright, until it started thaw and we started getting rain then it became obvious that there was absolutely 0 drainage, it is now a mud pit and soon as you step on it you just sink into a pit of mud even after 2-3 days of no rain! with it being council house are they responsible for getting this sorted as I have 2 young kids who are un able to play out on it and wife cant hang any washing out due to there being no path!

Our Response:
If you have moved into a council or housing association home it should be clean and fit to live in, please see Shelter link here for more information regarding your options.
ThePropertyLandlord - 7-Mar-17 @ 10:37 AM
I have just moved into a council property (3 bed house) when we moved in was winter time so the back garden was frosted over and iced so looked alright, until it started thaw and we started getting rain then it became obvious that there was absolutely 0 drainage, it is now a mud pit and soon as you step on it you just sink into a pit of mud even after 2-3 days of no rain! with it being council house are they responsible for getting this sorted as i have 2 young kids who are un able to play out on it and wife cant hang any washing out due to there being no path!
LEE - 6-Mar-17 @ 9:33 AM
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