Gardens – What`s my Responsibility?
Landlords need to be very clear in their own mind about the garden and relay onto the tenant what exactly is expected – who is responsible for what and which parts, or all of the outside. In order to avoid problems at the tenancy end and specifically deposit disputes, it is best practice to detail each party`s responsibility. This is best done by incorporating the precise wording into the tenancy agreement however be reasonable, if it is going to be a long tenancy.
Often the generic term for gardens is to “maintain and to return them in a similar standard as at the start of the tenancy”, which in reality is too subjective and bland. This can be a very emotive issue, not to mention seasonal; because with a tenancy starting in Winter the garden will be dormant, whereas starting in Summer, it could be rampant!
Make sure the garden is in good order at the tenancy start so there is a reliable benchmark for future comparison.
If a garden is large, it can often be easier to include a gardener for a couple of visits a month during the growing season, just to keep on top of the outside area. Similarly, if there are specific plants/trees/hedges or areas that a landlord would prefer to oversee, make it clear from the start and then, maintain it. Other areas that can need guidelines would be pond maintenance, weeding of flower beds, pruning and dead leaf clearance: it is worth mentioning that no hard landscaping should be allowed without a specific request being confirmed in writing.
If either route is sought; do make sure the tenant understands the access arrangements and times to avoid future misunderstandings and annoyance to both parties. A little forethought and planning can avoid these issues over what can be a very sensitive issue!