‘Horticultural horrors’ revealed by DPS

‘Horticultural horrors’ revealed by DPS

0:02 AM, 9th May 2023, About 10 months ago 6

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The Deposit Protection scheme reveals some of the unusual tenancy deposit disputes that they have come across relating to gardens.

One case saw a tenant pulling up thousands of pounds worth of exotic plants believing they were weeds.

Only a small proportion of landlords and renters register a dispute over the return of a deposit at the end of a tenancy.

Left a packet of grass seeds behind for the landlord instead

One example case saw someone “accidentally” cut down a healthy 20-year-old tree.

Another included a property at which the renters had not cared for the garden lawn sufficiently during their tenancy.

Rather than restore the lawn to the condition it had been in when they arrived, they simply left a packet of grass seeds behind for the landlord instead.

Elsewhere a landlord submitted a lawn repair claim that the DPS says was more in keeping with “creating a professional grass tennis court” than a piece of turfed ground outside the property.

Tenants have a right to reasonable use of the property

Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes, head of dispute resolution at the DPS, said: “Tenants have a right to reasonable use of the property, including being able to use the garden, and a responsibility to leave the space in good condition at check-out – whatever their interest or ability to nurture plants.”

“When adjudicators consider a dispute over an outdoor space, they’ll also take into consideration factors outside of the tenant’s control, including the weather, the time of the year and whether plants are vulnerable to pests or diseases.”

Landlords should clearly communicate their ‘garden expectations’

The DPS’ has published some tips that can help landlords and tenants to understand their rights and obligations when it comes to outdoor space.

1: Tenants must maintain a property’s green spaces if the agreement specifies.

If a landlord doesn’t opt to provide tools and a tenant doesn’t have them, the renter should borrow or buy the equipment needed to maintain any outdoor space.

 2: Landlords should clearly communicate their ‘garden expectations’.

Landlords should tell tenants on check-in what condition they want the garden to be in on check-out.

They should also make tenants aware of any plant they consider particularly important to the character of the garden or that has specific care requirements. Landlords may wish to consider replanting a plant with sentimental significance in their own garden because adjudicators can only make an award for financial, not emotional, loss.

 3: Landlords should however also be realistic about a tenant’s capacities to take care of specialist garden plants or features.

Tenants are not house-sitters and landlords should not expect them to take care of rare plants or any outside domestic or other creatures, for example, pond fish.

4: Landlords are responsible for regular maintenance of fixed features.

Landlords should make arrangements for the regular fixing of steps and paving slabs. If a property has swimming pool, landlords and tenants should explicitly agree on who maintains it.

5: Landlords concerned about the condition of the garden can make periodic visits.

Landlords can carry out interim inspections to assess the conditions of any outside space, with their tenant’s express permission. They should also spell out this intention in the tenancy agreement. Landlords wishing to visit a garden or carry out any repairs should give 24 hours’ notice and undertake the work at a reasonable time of day.


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Comments

David Smith

11:18 AM, 9th May 2023, About 10 months ago

I personally maintain the Garden during the tenancy.
This way any prospective tenants would be more willing to take on the property and much more unlikely to have a dispute about the condition of the garden at the end.

moneymanager

11:56 AM, 9th May 2023, About 10 months ago

" If a property has swimming pool, landlords and tenants should explicitly agree on who maintains it."

Surely if there is a tenant obligation to maintain at their cost it would constitute a tenant fee, if permissable for a pool why could not the same principle i.e. use a gardner, be applied to the garden?

Dennis Forrest

11:58 AM, 9th May 2023, About 10 months ago

The last 4 bed house I rented out included maintenance of the garden in the rent of £2500 p.c.m. This was the maximum rent recommended by my agent and I thought including gardening would make it a more attractive proposition. We did get a good family within 2 weeks of advertising. Our gardener was a retired policeman who was a keen amateur gardener. He only came about once a month in the winter but about every 10 days when the grass needed cutting. He put in a few low maintenance plants like lavender for us but generally it was just looking after the existing shrubs in the garden which needed regular pruning.

moneymanager

12:01 PM, 9th May 2023, About 10 months ago

Is that scenario of cutting down a tree, which is clearly a deliberate act, really just a civil matter?
" Destroying or damaging property.
(1)A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.
(2)A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property, whether belonging to himself or another—
(a)intending to destroy or damage any property or being reckless as to whether any property would be destroyed or damaged; and
(b)intending by the destruction or damage to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would be thereby endangered;
shall be guilty of an offence.
(3)An offence committed under this section by destroying or damaging property by fire shall be charged as arson. "
Criminal Damage Act 1971

If that applies then I think you could easily lodge a Small Claims

Chris H

13:06 PM, 9th May 2023, About 10 months ago

I had nighmare tenants, thousands in damages, blocked the drains when they left, theft of many items including thriple latters and over a 100 year old lawn roller, they also cut down an 85 year old tree...

Ian Narbeth

18:17 PM, 9th May 2023, About 10 months ago

Reply to the comment left by moneymanager at 09/05/2023 - 11:56
No it is not a fee, just an obligation similar to "The Tenant must replace light bulbs that burn out."

It would be unlawful though to put in the contract: "the Tenant will pay £10.00 to the landlord to replace any light bulb that needs replacing" as this is not allowed by Sch 1 of the Tenant Fees Act 2019.

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