Gardens have always been a mixed blessing for landlords - currently they’re popular with tenants but there is the problem of management and maintenance.
Now a garden consultancy, Paving Direct, has come up with advice to try to reconcile the two sides of the issue.
The rise in demand is good for landlords marketing properties with gardens, but is research from dispute resolution services suggest almost a quarter of all deposit disputes with tenants are over garden maintenance.
Generally, the tenant is responsible for keeping the garden in the same condition as it was at the start of their tenancy. This involves maintaining tasks such as removing litter, watering plants, and weeding.
The landlord is responsible for tasks that require additional expertise - fixing broken fences, removing broken sheds, for example.
In order to establish how landlords can avoid a garden dispute, Paving Direct has offered five tips on maintaining the garden once tenants have moved in:
1. Put clear garden maintenance clauses in place - The tenant should know what they are responsible for in the garden and this should be written in the tenancy agreement which both parties have signed. This should take into account the greenery in the garden and what type of upkeep might be needed over the longer term.
2. Keep a record of the garden inventory - As well as a diligent record of the interior condition of the property, landlords should keep reports and good quality time-stamped photos of the garden so they have documentation in case of any problems which may arise with the tenant.
3. Conduct regular inspections - When conducting the property inspection for the tenancy, landlords should check over the garden too and document any changes. If there are any apparent issues, the tenant should be asked to rectify these at the time of inspection.
4. Maintain a good relationship with the tenants - Keeping a good relationship with tenants can help to avoid a garden dispute, where the tenants are able to add in plants and designs to the garden where they see fit. Tenants should also be encouraged to report issues when they occur, rather than at the end of the tenancy where it may become difficult to decide who owns responsibility over the issue.
5. Create a strong foundation - Ensure that the garden is in good condition before the tenants move in, clearing any excess weeds, mowing the lawn, and removing any uneven paving stones and old furniture. This will set the ground running for new tenants and ensure they have a baseline of what is expected from them.
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