A gorgeous garden can be a real asset to a rental property. But on the other hand, a sadly neglected garden can be a giveaway that a property is a rental. We've put together some guidelines to help landlords and tenants with what they need to know about gardens.
The upkeep of gardens and outdoor spaces can cause issues between tenants and landlords if not properly managed. Here’s what you need to know.
Maintenance And Upkeep Obligations
While a well-maintained garden can add value to your property and attract tenants, the upkeep of outdoor spaces can be an issue, with badly neglected gardens often being obvious signs that a house is a rental property.
The Residential Tenancies Act NSW (2010) doesn’t provide a great deal of clarity in regard to garden maintenance and who is responsible for what. It simply states that tenants are responsible for 'general maintenance', which is typically interpreted as tasks like mowing lawns, weeding and watering. It is also usually considered the responsibility of the landlord to maintain gutters, trim trees and remove any dead fallen branches.
Unless you have a house-proud tenant who enjoys gardening, you may find that they do not complete basic tasks to your satisfaction. For this reason, some landlords choose to include gardening and lawn mowing services in the rent to ensure the upkeep of the property while avoiding tensions with tenants.
If your investment property has hedges that you do not wish to remove or manicured garden beds, we would definitely recommend booking a professional service at least twice a year - or even once a quarter. We are always happy to help you arrange such services, whether regular or ongoing.
Should your investment property be a home with a pool, tenants will be responsible for basic maintenance, such as cleaning the pool and maintaining the chemical balance of the water, unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement. While this may technically be your tenants’ responsibility, it may still be wise to have it done professionally in order to avoid any mistakes or neglect that could prove costly in the long term.
Factoring In Costs
If you choose to go the hassle-free route of booking services yourself, you can add these costs to the rent. Simply calculate the annual cost of the services and divide by 52 to come to a weekly figure. You may also be able to claim these costs as a tax deduction.
Keep It Simple
Either way, it’s a good idea to make maintenance as easy and low cost as possible. When you are planning a garden for an investment property, think about sturdy, resilient, low-maintenance plants, such as succulents or drought-resistant plants that can survive some neglect. Also ensure that you are choosing species that will not encroach on plumbing, power lines or foundations, as some plants can overtake gardens very easily, which can cause major problems if left unchecked.
How Tenants Can Use Outdoor Space
NSW tenancy laws state that tenants can request to make 'minor changes' to a property at their own expense, including planting some vegetables or flowers in a garden. However, according to Fair Trading NSW, the law does not specify what exactly constitutes a minor change. In the interests of good tenant relations most landlords will agree to minor garden alterations, particularly if they will actually improve the look of the property.
In our experience, documenting the state of the garden or outdoor space thoroughly with photographs at both the beginning and end of a tenancy is key to avoiding any issues.
Part of our role as property management specialists is to undertake regular inspections and be proactive about arranging for any necessary services. We also communicate expectations about the upkeep of outdoor spaces to tenants at the outset of a lease to avoid any confusion.
Need Advice On How To Resolve Tenant And Landlord Issues?
Contact our team of specialists today.