Renting Guide - Who is responsible for the Garden?

It is quite rare for there to be a deposit dispute at the end of a tenancy, but one of the top reasons for disputes is the garden upkeep which account for around 15% of deposit disputes in 2020-2021 according to the Tenancy Deposit scheme statistics.

Quite often gardens are overlooked in a tenancy agreement which then makes it unclear who is responsible for the upkeep of the garden and ensuring that it is returned to the same condition at the end of the tenancy as it was at the start. In this article we will take a closer look at gardens and who is responsible for them.

Tenancy agreement

Fundamentally who is responsible for what should be provided for in detail in the tenancy agreement. Get that right and a lot of potential confusion disappears. Typically, a tenant would be responsible for basic garden upkeep such as weeding, watering (including the lawn), lawn mowing and pruning. A landlord would be responsible for dealing with larger bushes, hedges and trees. The tenancy agreement needs to be very clear on the specific tasks that will fall to each party, be very clear about how the garden needs to be left at the end of the tenancy and also specify if and how the tenant can make alterations to the garden. It is important to remember that a tenant cannot be expected to carry out gardening tasks that would require expert knowledge, skills or tools.

Check-in and Check-out

Getting the check-in report right is very important. At check-in gardens are often skimmed over, but to avoid disputes, detailed photos and descriptions of the garden should also be included in the report and agreed between the parties.

What about gardening tools?

Even if the landlord requires the tenant to carry out basic garden maintenance there is no legal requirement for the landlord to provide gardening tools. Of course, if they are provided, then it is more likely that the tenant will look after the garden. If a landlord does decide to provide tools, especially electrical ones, they need to make sure that they are in good condition and that they are regularly inspected and, in the case of electrical tools, PAT tested. Any electrical tools also need to be RCD protected. It is up to the tenant to look after the tools and use them properly, however.

Inspections

Most landlords will carry out regular inspections of their property as part of the tenancy, these should also include the garden. If there are any issues in the garden, then these should be discussed as part of the inspection.

In Summary, typically a tenant would be responsible for the basic upkeep of the garden and this should be specified in the tenancy agreement. A landlord would be responsible for the more complex aspects such as keeping on top of large trees and hedges which would require more specialist skills and tools.