If you’re a landlord, you may be aware of the pitfalls of letting a property with a garden, but there are ways that you can avoid these issues. Offering a garden with your property may even help to boost your profits!
Some landlords prefer to provide as little as possible for their tenants, to avoid as much damage as possible. But those hoping to maximise profits and appeal to a wider range of tenants may find that marketing a property with a garden is an easy way to get it let quickly to reliable tenants.
Are you tempted to let a property with a garden? Here are the pitfalls associated with doing so, and how you can avoid them:
Tenants must maintain the garden – Ensure they know
Unless you specify otherwise, it is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the garden to the standard it was provided to them while they live in the property. However, many may not know that this is their duty.
Along with details of what else they must maintain, such as keeping the home clean, make sure that the tenancy agreement states that they must maintain the garden and reinforce this face-to-face when they sign the contract.
The tenants aren’t keeping it neat enough – Hire a gardener
Your tenants may comply with their responsibilities, but don’t do a good enough job by your standards. They may simply do the minimum, which may not be neat enough for you.
If this is the case, you may decide that you’d prefer to hire a gardener and ensure that the garden is kept to a high standard.
Tenants aren’t complying – Put a clause in the tenancy agreement
On the other hand, you may have tenants that simply do not comply with their responsibility to maintain the garden. This could leave you with an extremely overgrown and unkempt garden at the end of the tenancy.
Before letting the property, you must make sure that a clause is written into the tenancy agreement that means that tenants must fulfil their duties, or face losing some of their deposit. This will prevent you having to pay for any damage caused.
There are too many tenants coming and going – Offer longer tenancies
If you offer short-term tenancies, such as six months to a year, you may find that the sheer number of tenants moving in and out of the property leads to the garden becoming messy and/or unmaintained.
Taking the decision to provide a garden may mean that you also choose to offer longer tenancies to prospective tenants, such as three years-plus, to ensure that they take real care of the whole property.
There’s confusion over the tenant’s responsibilities – Remember that expertise requires experts
While the tenant must maintain the garden to the level it was provided to them, they cannot be expected to complete dangerous, specialist or risky tasks, such as cutting down branches.
Remember that if there is a big problem with the garden, you cannot expect your tenant to conduct this task. Instead, it is your job to sort the issue yourself, or hire the appropriate tradesperson.
I’m worried about the garden becoming messy – Take a deposit
With confusion over whose responsibility it is to maintain the garden very common in the rental sector, it is just as common to find that the tenants do not maintain the garden and it becomes messy over the tenancy.
This is why award-winning Landlord Insurance provider Just Landlords suggests taking a deposit for every tenancy. This will enable you to cover the cost of any damage that the tenant has caused or as a result of negligence by the tenant.
What about disputes over the condition of the garden? – Take photos
Nevertheless, even if you do take a deposit and wish to deduct an amount from it following damage to the garden, a dispute may arise between you and the tenant over whether any damage was caused.
It is essential that you conduct a thorough inventory report before and after the tenant moves in/out. This should include photographs, so that you have some evidence as to the condition of the garden and rest of the property.
Issues are arising too late – Conduct periodic inspections
Although you can take all the precautions suggested above, you may still find that issues are arising with the garden, and later than would allow you to resolve them easily.
To prevent turning up at the end of the tenancy with a garden that really has got out of control, you should conduct regular periodic inspections throughout the tenancy and raise any problems you have with your tenant there and then. This way, you are addressing an issue soon after it’s surfaced, rather than months or even years later.
This advice for landlords should help those thinking of letting a property with a garden understand the pitfalls they may face, and how to avoid them.