Garden advice: the dos and don’ts for tenants this summer

3 days ago
Garden advice: the dos and don’ts for tenants this summer

We all know gardens were the feature of choice among tenants moving home during the pandemic but a new survey shows how our love for the great outdoors hasn’t dimmed.   

When mortgage lender Molo asked renters to select their top five most important property features, private outdoor space beat a home’s energy efficiency rating and proximity to the workplace as an essential aspect. In fact, 33% said somewhere outside to call their own was their top must-have.   

With the summer months stretching ahead of us and hopefully better weather encouraging us outside, it’s good to know the dos and don’ts of maintaining a garden or balcony attached to a rental property.  

What’s detailed in the signed tenancy agreement is incredibly important in terms of expectations and we can help you understand what responsibilities fall to the tenant, and what the landlords will take care of. For now, these garden dos and don’ts provide a general guide for renters:-   

Do:

Undertake regular garden maintenance: little and often is the most manageable way of keeping a garden looking good in the summer. Mow the lawn before the grass gets too long, remove weeds and prune back low growing shrubs.

Think carefully about pots on balconies: ceramic pots full of soil and water are heavy and can jeopardise the structural integrity of a balcony. Instead, opt for lightweight plastic versions and reuse polystyrene packaging to half fill the pots, topping up with specialist container compost. Also be mindful when watering as it can cascade down to the balcony below. You can reduce this risk by placing a drip tray or saucer under each pot. 

Do report issues promptly: a landlord will be responsible for anything that needs specialist equipment or a professional skill. If you notice a broken fence panel, suspect you have a wasps’ nest or have a tall tree that’s leaning precariously to one side, let the property manager or landlord know. They’ll arrange for someone to come out, so don’t try and tackle it yourself.

Get permission to dig deep: green fingered tenants may want to take advantage of the summer months to dig new flower borders, add raised beds or even create a wildlife pond. Anything that changes the composition of the garden, however, should have written permission from the landlord. This also includes removing or severely cutting back any plants that were there at the start of the tenancy. 

Don’t:

Ignore leaky gutters and blocked drains: summer can bring flash flooding after hot spells and while it is usually the responsibility of the landlord to regularly check gutters, downpipes and drains for damage, the tenant is expected to be vigilant. The landlord or property manager should be made aware of anything that’s overflowing or obstructed.   

Hang out your washing without checking: although it very rarely creates an issue, some tenancy agreements will contain a clause that prohibits tenants from drying their laundry outside on a static or rotary line. This clause is sometimes added to deter tenants from hanging their washing over balcony railings. 

Add an outdoor structure without permission: sheds, garden outbuildings and pergolas erected without permission can lead to disputes, with the landlord within their rights to deduct the cost of dismantling an unauthorised structure at the end of the tenancy from the renter’s deposit. Although not strictly structures, some tenancy agreements will prohibit the addition of a trampoline, especially an in-ground model, or a hot tub – even the pop-up type.   

Light anything without consideration: summer is the season for barbecues and bonfires but before you flame-grill dinner or burn garden waste, check the small print in the tenancy agreement. Sometimes there’s a clause that bans barbeques but, more frequently, bonfires are strictly prohibited to avoid conflict with neighbours and the council. This clause may also extend to Chinese lanterns and fireworks.  

If you are still unclear about what you can and can’t do in your garden or on your balcony this summer, get in touch. We can help explain your tenancy agreement and renter responsibilities.

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