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Tenants and Gardens: Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 13 Nov 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]
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
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
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