Living in a rental property with a beautiful garden can be great, especially during the warmer months of spring and summer months which offer the perfect weather for outdoor entertaining. However, gardens require maintenance, and while some people have green thumbs and enjoy working in the garden on their weekends, most people find garden maintenance a dubious chore. Check out our Garden Maintenance guide!
Inevitably, garden maintenance (or lack thereof) can lead to some serious disagreements between tenants and landlords.
So, what exactly are the tenant garden maintenance responsibilities, and what is the landlord’s responsibility?
Unless your tenancy agreement states otherwise, you can safely assume that you (the tenant) are responsible for mowing and edging the lawns, watering, weeding, pruning and fertilising – all chores which could be deemed ‘garden maintenance.’
As a tenant, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring the garden is maintained to the standard set at the beginning of the tenancy. Your landlord, however, will generally be responsible for things such as providing and maintaining the irrigation system, cleaning gutters and tree lopping – but this can vary in some tenancy agreements. Be sure to check with your property manager or landlord if you’re not sure.
Yard & Garden Maintenance – Lawns, Gardens & Trees
Arrangements about the maintenance of gardens, trees and lawns should be listed in the Tenancy Agreement as well as the Entry Condition Report and Exit Condition Report.
Generally, the tenant is responsible for yard work (e.g. mowing, edging, and weeding), however this should be specified in the agreement.
Major work such as tree lopping, pruning trees and shrubs and cutting back overhanging branches (such as those near power lines) and maintaining firebreaks is usually carried out by the property manager/owner as part of their obligation to keep the property in good repair. This type of work is not carried out regularly and is more likely to require specialist knowledge, or equipment such as ladders.
Any plants, hedges or lawns that require specialist upkeep are usually not the responsibility of the tenant, unless they agree.
Responsibility for removing fallen branches, including palm fronds, may vary depending on the circumstances. The tenant may be responsible to clear away small, manageable branches in a timely manner. Larger branches, which may require specialist equipment to remove, may be the property manager/owner’s responsibility. Any damage caused by fallen branches may be the property manager/owner’s responsibility to repair.
Arrangements about the collection and ownership of fruit should be included in the special terms of the agreement. If this has not been included, the right to occupy the property may give the tenant the right to pick the fruit during the tenancy.
Special terms about fruit trees may include:
Local council water restrictions should be considered. The tenant may not be held responsible if lawns, trees or other plants die because of compliance with these local laws or due to excessive dry weather conditions.
Yard Maintenance Contracts – Hire A Professional Landscaper!
If yard maintenance is covered by a contract between the property manager/owner and an external landscaping company this should be listed in the tenancy agreement.
While the tenant cannot be required to enter into a maintenance contract with a particular landscaping and gardening company in addition to their rent or require the tenant to use a specific company to provide maintenance services. Hiring a professional garden landscaper will save you a lot of time and possibly future arguments with your Landlord.
It’s easy to see how uncertainty and disagreements may arise. For example, at what point does a tree or shrub require lopping instead of pruning? And although the landlord is generally responsible for keeping gutters clean, it is the your responsibility to advise the property manager of any potential blockages or water leaks. If an issue is fairly obvious and you fail to report it, you may be liable for any damage caused.
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