With spring finally here (this week at least!), many prospective tenants will be turning their thoughts towards a London rental home with a garden, or at least a little outside space where they can relax during the warmer days and evenings.
Most tenants love a garden – they might like to sit out or entertain friends, they might have children (or a pet) or they may be green fingered and simply enjoy gardening. But equally some tenants don’t want the hassle of mowing the lawn or weeding the flower beds.
So who is responsible for the garden’s upkeep? Generally, it is the tenant’s responsibility. In most tenancy agreements, the wording relating to a garden is short and simple, saying that the tenant should mow the grass as required per the season, maintain any bushes and not cut down any trees.
However, some landlords with a family size home in a location like Hampstead have stunning gardens that they may have nurtured for years so they can be very specific about what is expected of the tenant. They might retain their own gardener and sometimes even pay for them, to ensure the garden is kept in good condition. That’s why we always enquire about any special conditions relating to the garden to avoid arguments at the end of the tenancy. Having said that, tenants should check with the landlord too so they don’t find themselves unexpectedly paying for a gardener every week.
There aren’t usually any restrictions as to what a tenant can do to a garden, as long as it’s an improvement. A landlord is unlikely to object to a green fingered tenant spending time and money improving a garden which is clearly a benefit to the property!
But both tenant and landlord should be clear about what is expected. A couple of years ago we let a large family house in Kensington to an American family with four young boys. The landlord, who was based overseas, had a gardener lay a new lawn and plant the flower beds before the family moved in. But understandably, the boys wanted to use the garden more as a football pitch than a place to relax so they installed football nets and had plenty of summer football parties with their friends! At the end of the tenancy, after two years of football practice, there was barely a blade of grass left. They were a lovely family but had very different expectations of what a garden should be used for!
The tenants had been advised at the start of the tenancy to maintain the grass as is standard so our landlord, with the help of photographic evidence, was able to recoup the cost of a new lawn from them.
So my advice for both landlords and tenants would be to clearly establish what is expected of the other, and make sure you put it in writing so there can be no misunderstandings.
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