Where to start with: Gardening responsibilities
If you have a garden at your rental property, chances are your tenants will have been making the most of it recently with the heatwave.
It is important to keep the garden in good shape, but when it comes to cutting the grass and trimming the bushes, who is responsible for doing this, the tenant or the landlord?
In this Where to Start with blog, we take a closer look at some common questions around garden maintenance, and what landlords need to know.
NRLA members can access guidance on landlords' responsibilities over on our website, as well as free expert advice via our landlord advice line and exclusive discounts on services for landlords that could save you money and time. Sound good? Join us today!
My rental property has a garden. Who is responsible for keeping it in good shape?
Landlords have a legal responsibility to keep the structure of the property in good repair. This is the law, and comes under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
So, in terms of the exterior of the property, this would include responsibility for repairing things like fences, drains, guttering and so on.
But when it comes to who is responsible for carrying out basic garden maintenance, such as cutting the grass, ultimately it will depend on what is mentioned in the tenancy agreement. In fact, this is the best approach to take with many questions relating to the garden, that it is advisable to check what is mentioned in the AST.
For example, NRLA tenancy agreements, which members can download for free, state that gardens should be kept garden tidy and the grass should be cut regularly, but that tenants do not have to improve the garden.
So, if the tenancy agreement makes reference to the tenant being required to perform basic maintenance towards the upkeep of the garden to ensure it is a similar standard as when they moved in, then the contract does require the tenant to maintain the garden.
Landlords are not required to provide things like a lawnmower to facilitate the obligation of maintaining the garden, but practically it is difficult to ask the tenant to adhere to this term in the contract without providing them the means to do so, as many tenants will not own their own gardening equipment.
Any major improvements or repairs to the garden will almost always be the responsibility of the landlord.
Don’t forget- if you’re looking to improve the appearance of your garden, NRLA members can benefit from 10% discount at TradePoint (B&Q), and can get discounts on garden furniture, tools, and more!
Gardeners and the Tenant Fees Act
Some landlords may wish to employ a gardener to ensure the garden is kept tidy.
It is important to note that since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act a few years ago, landlords CAN NOT charge tenants extra for the cost of the gardener as this is classed under this piece of legislation as a prohibited fee. This also applies to tenancies in Wales. More on this, can be read in a recent call of the week on this subject.
Dealing with garden pests
Hot weather can result in much more garden pests both in gardens and even inside homes. Wasps, bees, flies and the like can all be a bit of a nuisance, so its really important to deal with the issue as soon as possible if your tenant reports this at your rental property.
In the cases of most pests, a trained professional must be used to deal with the issue, for safety reasons. The local council’s environmental health department should also be able to give advice on matters relating to pests.
There is a range of legislation to be aware of surrounding pest control. All pest control work needs to be carried out in accordance with Animal Welfare Act 2006, Wild Mammals Protection Act 1996, Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. There are also ‘Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986’ to adhere to (which will be superseded eventually by the ‘Biocidal Products Regulations’) and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. Some of these laws protect some animals that could be seen as pests, but at the other end of the scale there are some pests you must, by law destroy, provided this is done in a humane way. More information can be read on British Pest Control website.
It is important to deal with the pest issue first, and then consider if you as the landlord can work with your tenant to consider if anything can be done in the future to stop the issue arising again. The issue of who is responsible for dealing with pests was covered in a recent call of the week.
- Have a question on gardening responsibilities that's not covered in this article? Our landlord advice team may be able to help. Take a look at the topics we advise on and join us today!
- Read more blogs in our Where to Start with series! Check-out: Where to start with: Gaining Access and Where to start with Renewing a tenancy