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How to approach the issue of gardens in let properties.

Having a property returned in good order is important to a landlord and we do all we can to try and ensure that, with the exception of fair wear and tear, properties we manage are returned in inventory-like condition.

If a property has a show garden, then it is likely that there will be issues at check-out.  In truth, it’s better that right at the very out-set, a prospective landlord tries to accept this.  In managing a landlord’s expectations, we often try and urge him to lose emotional attachment to his property. 

This is obviously more difficult if it were once the family home or the landlord intends to return to it one day.  The garden may well have been his pride and joy, but to most tenants, it is simply a space for the kids to kick a football around in, or for the occasional BBQ.  A landlord may well have loved ensuring neat even stripes in his newly mown lawn.  A tenant, however, is likely to consider the task of looking after a manicured lawn a constant pain which has to be suffered as infrequently as possible.

Those roses and shrubs which were once lovingly cared for and trimmed, may now be nothing more than a means of puncturing footballs.  And the weeds are something that many tenants simply tolerate.

A standard tenancy agreement will make the tenant responsible for cutting the lawn, keeping weeds at bay and maintaining small shrubs. 

But you cannot expect a tenant to maintain a 30 foot tall Leylandii hedge or to maintain hundreds of yards of hedgerows.  If you need clarification in your specific case, just ask.

If you have a garden which does require some maintenance of this nature, you should consider engaging a professional gardener a couple of times a year to take care of it.  It will actually turn a negative feature in a prospective tenant’s eyes into a positive benefit.

If, however, you intend that your tenant maintains the garden, you will need to supply the basic tools to enable them to do this.  This will mean a lawn-mower, possibly a strimmer, and basic hand tools.  Any power tools should be in good order, electric cables checked and RCD protection provided.  You should also leave safety guidelines for these tools and an extension lead.

Once a tenant vacates, if the garden isn’t as it was found, then there is a very good case for engaging a gardener to rectify what is possible and make deductions from the departing tenant’s deposit, if appropriate.

Whatever approach you adopt, you’d be well-advised to give your expectations some examination and consider what you might be able to do to try and make this thorny subject more palatable for you.

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